One of the many misconceptions regarding IBD is that surgery is the cure. Of course it helps tremendously and may seem like it eradicates the disease but unfortunately it is not a cure, there is no cure for IBD, yet.
IBD is an autoimmune disease meaning the immune system, which is needed to attack any foreign cells in your body fighting infections and viruses, actually doesn’t function properly and attacks all my healthy cells instead. Great.
Due to IBD being an autoimmune disease, even though my immune system attacks my large bowel, it also affects other parts of my body too as a whole. As my body is constantly fighting itself, a huge part of my disease is fatigue. Now this isn’t just feeling tired or having a lazy day, it’s being physically exhausted to the point where you cannot stand up or do anything.
There are many forms of IBD but the two most common are Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Crohns disease, I suffer with UC. These two diseases are very similar but differ in location. Crohns disease can affect the whole digestive system, from mouth to anus, in patches, whereas UC only occurs in the large bowel.
IBD can cause many other symptoms other than the typical toilet problems. For example, due to loss of blood in stools I have suffered with anaemia in the past, and a big problem is from side effects from medication. The most common medication given to anyone with an IBD flare up is steroids. For anyone who’s ever been on long term steroids will know that they are the devil. How can a small little pill cause so much damage to the human body?! Steroids cause hair-loss, fatigue, weight gain, mood swings and can reduce bone density if on long term. For me my bone density reduced and caused mild osteoporosis. So, not only do you have to deal with the IBD all these other things just come along for the ride.
These side effects from drugs can be troublesome for years, causing wider problems. Just another thing for us to deal with.
So, I still have my rectum intact. The removal of this is often done in a separate surgery to the removal of the large intestine, due to a factor of reasons. One is that it would be a massive surgery if so, another being the fact that removing the rectum can cause a higher risk of infertility due to the location, therefore the doctors and surgeons like to perform this next step at a later date.
I still have UC in my rectum, of course it’s no where near as bad as when I had my large bowel but I still sometimes suffer. I still pass mucus and blood from my rectum, and still need to sit on the toilet to relieve this, and especially after having alcohol I can feel my rectum becoming more irritated. When I do get my rectum removed, if I end up going down that route, I will still feel the effects of UC without having the bowel problems. I will still have a dodgy immune system, theres no way to remove that, but it’s a hell of a lot better without all the toilet troubles.
So sometimes I still do have bad days, but it’s rare, unlike when I still had my large bowel it was the good days which were rare. But I will never be cured, but that’s fine, i’ve learned to live with it and will continue to learn and understand that this disease is a part of me and nothing can change that.
Surgery hasn’t cured me but it’s made me a hell of a lot stronger.