Gina's Story of Total Colon RemovalGINA'S SUCCESS STORY OF LIVING WITHOUT A COLON I was a typical teenager that only wanted to live off hamburger, hot dogs, french fries, Suzie Q's, sunflower seeds and Bologna sandwiches. By the time I was 12 I was having constipation problems enough that I would take an occasional laxative to keep things moving along. I had quite a stressful life, I was a childhood entertainer, ran way at 15 and was already experiencing with drugs, got married at 16 the first time, had two miscarriages by age 18 and was pregnant with my first child at 19 years old. I was always having pain in my stomach but just chalked all up to the rough life I was living. Most of the time I would fall into the category of anorexia/ Bulimia because every time I ate it would hurt me so I would either not eat or throw it up so that it would not hurt my intestines while digesting.
While pregnant I started to have even more pain sort of like contractions then I would run to the bathroom only to have mucus come out with a small amount of bowel movement. I just figured once again that this was all to do with pregnancy. A year or so after having the baby C-Section, I continually had more and more contractions with the mucus coming out of my rectum. I decided to see a primary care doctor. When I did he sent me straight over to a colon doctor. Upon arriving at the colon doctor, I was led into the patient room to tell my story. As soon as I was finished he asked me to put a gown on and stated that he was going to do a small test and take some samples. I changed into the gown as they came in with this big long snake looking machine that scared me half to death. he saw the fear on my face and encouraged me saying if you relax it will not hardly hurt at all. Ha Ha!
They instructed me to lay on my side and relax as they proceeded to snake that thing up my rear end all the way through my infected large intestine. I screamed and cried more and more as the went farther and farther up saying hold on just a little bit more and we will be done.
Finally it was over and he left the room. I determined that I would NEVER have that test again!
I was shaking and crying still after getting dressed upon the doctor returning to give me the results.
The doctor acted as if it was no big deal as he told me that I had colitis and that I needed to stay off the spicy foods(which by the way I did not eat anyway). Then he stated that if I did not stay off spicy foods that it would turn into Ulcerated Colitis, then into possibly into cancer within 20 years. He then stated there was No Cure for it.
I felt as if I was delivered a death sentence. No cure? I wondered what could be causing it since I did not eat spicy foods except for Ketchup with my junk food. As a young teen would do I pushed it out of my mind and continued on with my life living the rough bar singing lifestyle of an entertainer. Through the years I went through 2 divorces one more C-Section 3 more miscarriages, and a total hysterectomy by age 26. I was doing drugs, drinking with the attitude of "Well if I am gonna die of cancer anyway, I might as well go out in a Blaze Of Glory".
As well it seemed as I did more and more drugs it would lessen the pain I was going through as the colitis turned into ulcers that would bleed out of my rectum many times a day.
I ignored the fact that I was sick.
Finally at the age of 33 my sister had been talking to me trying to convince me to go to another doctor. I had an experience one morning after being up all night doing cocaine to where I was overdosing there was a Spiritual person speaking to me telling me how to pray. I prayed and
needless to say, I was delivered of the drugs that very morning. I decided quickly that I would ask my sister if I could come to Missouri and stay with her in an attempt to get my life together.
She agreed and I loaded up with in a few days and left Nashville Tn.
By this time I was bleeding so much from this disease that I had anemia.
While living at my sister's there were several times that I would be in such horrible pain and bleeding that I would go to the emergency room and they would run IV steroids through me and send me home with a colon doctor's name to follow up with.
I would follow up with the colon doctor only to find out that they could not do much because I did not have any insurance, so they would send me home with more steroids to take. I started to develop a problem with the steroids and irregular heart beat so I just decided to not take them.
I was not once told to go on a different diet or anything other than take steroids. In fact they did not even ask me what I was eating most of the time.
I was at the point that I figured that I would just have to live in pain as a slave to the bathroom 15 to 20 trips a day when one night, I began to have contractions one after the other and when I say contractions these were like a woman in labor pains that I would have every day of my life.
This particular night we had the ambulance come to get me and I asked them to take me to a hospital in St. Louis because so far I had no luck with the country hospitals. They took me to the closet one called St. Luke's in Chesterfield Mo.
I was taken into have x-rays and more then they called a surgeon to come in the middle of the night. the surgeon had them wheel me over to his office and he was like my Knight and Shining Armour. Just based off the x-rays he explained that all of my colon was diseased and could not be saved. That I would have to have a surgery called the Ileal Anal Reservoir, or the regular surgery that consisted of the total colon removal and living with a colostomy bag on my side forever. He explained that he would try to do the reconstructive one called the Reservoir that could be taken down at the end of 3 months or so when I was well enough and then I would not have to wear a bag anymore but there could be the chances of the other surgery, also a chance that I could wake up to an open stomach because of the infection needing to dry up, or I could die in surgery.
He stated that he would like to admit me right away and start me on IV antibiotics and Steroids for two days to reduce the inflamtion because if he did it right then I would be left open for sure.
We decided on doing surgery on early Monday morning. I asked him the dreaded question.
But Doctor what about me not having any insurance?
I will never forget what Dr. Todd Arends said to me, He answered with I am not concerned about that, I am concerned about your life.
I agreed with him and I was ever so eager to get that colon that had hurt me for so many years out of my body not even thinking about the consequences or the recovery.
Monday morning came and I asked for the Chaplin to come in I believe two times. He prayed for me and read the Psalms about Walking through the Shadow of death I will fear no evil. Then as my sister held my hand as I clutched the Bible as if it were God itself, they took me into surgery. Before going into the operation room they gave me a little IV cocktail that relaxed me and
then the next thing I knew I was waking up about 6-7 hours later, trying to throw up and hurting like I had never hurt in my life.
There was a tube down my throat, a poop bag on my side, another tube coming out the left side to collect fluids and of course the pee bag.
Not to mention the Morphine IV drip that they had on me that monitored my pain and administered medication every time I needed it. I remember seeing family around me looking at me as if they thought I was going to die any minute.
Later I learned from my sister that they did not believe I would make it.
I was in the hospital for quite awhile I would have to look back on records to find out how long, but eventually I was well enough to go home to my sisters.
Even though this was a great Hospital with a Wonderful Surgeon that I would recommend to anyone, it fell through the cracks to explain a new way of eating life style that I needed to make the changes of. So when I ate, I went back to the same old things. Of course having to learn to eat all over again, I could only eat one teaspoon or so at a time.
But needless to say I did end up having bowel obstructions that sent me back to the hospital.
After I figured out on my own that I needed to stay on soft foods until I was able to get well enough to be able to eat somewhat normal, then I began to heal.
I detested that awful poop bag on my side and even though I was extremely clean I felt dirty
all of the time. It repulsed me to look at it, made me go through an extreme depression and more. So with the time line the Doctor had given me about being able to possibly have it taken off in three months that made me determined like never before!
I started out building my strength by walking from the couch to the door and back, then from the couch to the car outside and back, then from the couch down the driveway and back, within my 3 month visit, I was walking over 3 miles a day.
When I went to my 3 month determination visit, the doctor (whom even though he was married I had an extreme crush on, after all he had saved my life LOL), he stated that he had never seen anyone heal so quickly. I was ready to be booked into the hospital right away to have the awful unsightly thing taken off.
When I describe the colostomy bag this way it is because that is the way I saw it on me, these were my feelings about myself. Today I see that I had a problem with vanity at that time so please understand it is not offend anyone that may or may not have a colostomy bag.
They were able to do what is called the take down with no problems then I was sent home within three days to recover again.
It did not take long to recover from this procedure it was a breeze.
One huge Blessing besides the fact that my life was saved, was that the State of Missouri ended up picking up an almost $100,000 hospital bill but the Doctor's bill was not covered.
I talked to Dr. Arends about making payments and truly wanted to pay him but due to the fact that I was unable to work for a long time I was not able to make many payments, so he ended up just writing it off without ruining my credit over it.
Now 13 years later, I have had many struggles. I have to have that horrible Colon test with the big long snake every year or so but guess what? THEY OUT PEOPLE OUT FOR IT NOW!
Imagine that! So I feel NOTHING!
First of all my thyroid shut down, I had to have my gall bladder removed and have had several problems with kidney stones. I started having hives and shingles right after the colon surgery so within a year or so they started testing me for food allergies and since I found out that I have over 90 some allergies to foods, drugs, household, and environmental. They call it Anaphylaxis.
As well I have asked the allergy doctor if it could have been a possibility that I was allergic all of my life to these things and since I continued to eat them anyway that it diseased my insides and he said yes that is a possibility especially since now my bladder has become diseased with the same sort of disease called Interstitial Cystitis.
This condition is definitely caused from allergies.
So my advice to mother's to be and so forth, if your child shows any signs of intestinal issues, have them tested early on for allergies because they may end up like I did.
My success story is that I am alive, I do most things that others do except I do not work full-time because I am still a slave to the bathroom and I dehydrate very easily. But other than that, I am tired a lot because I need to find some sort of vitamin's that will stay in my system,also I have immune system problems that is affecting skin discoloration. Other than that to look at me I look a picture of health.
So do not think it is the end of the world if you are diagnosed with this, now they have medications other than steroids that can help, plus changing your diet and investigating more natural ways can also help I hear. It is NOT the end of the world and if I can make it and live to tell about it you can too! Today I have changed my diet and it is slowing down the process of the bladder issue. I have learned what to eat and what not to eat, what will probably happen to a person that has their colon removed and much, much more knowledge that I am willing to share with the world. Even though I have a few extra things to deal with, I have heard of worse and know that my Story is a Success.