A good analogy for living with a jpouch is that it might be a bit like walking a tightrope.
By this I mean that when you eventually master a jpouch you might feel invincible and able to do a somersault and still land back on the rope. However, if your jpouch starts to act up and show signs of slacking then you quickly lose your balance and sure footedness.
I had become a skilled practitioner of jpouch tightrope life and had maintained my balance with (relative) ease for five good years. No real problem.
But due to my jpouch deciding to stop working properly, it soon brought me back down to earth with a bump and it’s now just 8 days until I have ostomy surgery.
This was a bit of a reality check at first, but I am now in a place where I am looking forward to ostomy life because my jpouch has been massively inhibiting me during these past two years.
So, as I will be waving goodbye to my jpouch I would like to reminisce on the elements of it that I probably won’t miss so much! To prove that an ostomy does have some advantages after all.
Most jpouchers I think will understand these three elements in particular can at times be tricky to handle:
- The noisy, uncontrollable bowel gurgles
- The way that it dictated my daily routine in terms of regimented eating times
- The rather noisy toilet trips (!) can be a bit awkward when using public loos
First off then, the noisy gurgles. Especially when in a quiet office, this was something that I never really got used to. I didn’t know whether to just ignore them, make a joke ‘that I must be hungry’, or explain to people why my tummy makes these weird noises. My default coping strategy was to ignore my gurgles in the hope that no one heard them – even though in reality it must have caught their attention due to the high decibel levels!
This was especially tricky in a quiet office environment, and a couple of times when people said ‘what’s that noise?!’ I never really found a way to comfortably explain it or instantly brush it off. That’s just the way I am. So I won’t miss this, as in my experience an ostomy is more or less silent. This silence will bring with it peace of mind.
Moving onto my second tricky element: My jpouch dictated my daily life in quite a big way in terms of what times I ate, to the point where I had created almost military precision eating times (no food after 9pm, no lunch or dinner before I have been to the toilet, etc, etc!). Although I managed to find a good routine to manage this, it did cramp my style a bit as I couldn’t really eat anything after 8pm unless I was prepared for a middle of the night toilet trip
In comparison, my experience with an ostomy is that it is less of a big deal to eat whenever you fancy as going to the loo is purely down to when your bag is full rather than the bodily sensations associated with a jpouch. This means I will soon be able to snack and eat with more freedom like a carefree eating person, great!
Finally, I was going to leave this out but in the spirit of raising awareness, let’s not forget that having a jpouch can also be a bit noisy and er, explosive, when visiting the loo! In this respect an ostomy is a silent assassin and so actually more discreet, which will make my toilet trips easier/less stress especially when visiting public toilets. (These are things that really come into focus for us lot with no colon!).
Thanks for reading and I hope to prove that there is no reason why you cannot be a balancing extraordinaire with an ostomy too.
For all you guys with a jpouch that works great then a big thumbs up to you.
p.s – I know some friends and family reading this won’t know what the heck a ‘jpouch’ even is, so put very simply a jpouch is a surgical procedure that allows you to go to the toilet normally even after you have had your colon removed. It is an alternative to an ostomy bag. However, because you have no colon then you have to visit the toilet more often, usually 4-6 times a day. So, there you have it! There are many other aspects to a jpouch too that I may tell you about some time, if I can think of an entertaining way to explain:).