Can Ulcerative Colitis Be Cured?
When I first saw the Crohns Colitis Foundation of America pleading that removal of a person’s colon be a cure for ulcerative colitis, I found it absurd, but it didn’t really bother me too much. When I see the proponents using the phrase “Crohns disease and IBD” instead of “Crohns disease and Ulcerative Colitis”, I didn’t pay much attention to her at first. Or rather, I didn’t let it sink in.
But that’s how I see it. If you have strep throat, take antibiotics for ten days and you are cured. If you have appendicitis, the cure is appendectomy. If your tonsils make you uncomfortable, it would be a cure in my book to have them removed.
So what’s the difference? You don’t need your appendix or tonsils to perform basic body functions, or for any reason.
A person needs their colon !!!!! Will you die without her? Probably not. Will your life change dramatically once your colon is gone? In all likelihood yes.
If the removal of the large intestine was really the “cure” in a patient with ulcerative colitis, why should someone deal with drugs such as Remicade, Humira, Asocol, Lialda, Prednisone, 6mp, etc.? These have nasty side effects that no one will ever want to put in their bodies if there is really a cure. Why should someone suffer from flare-ups, be in and out of the hospital for years and therefore not only physically, but also emotionally and socially … if they could only have their colon removed, healed and go their happy way?
The answer is: because the removal of a vital organ, like a human colon, is accompanied by other questions that need to be carefully considered.
The best scenario for a colitis ulcer is that they have their colon removed and have an extremely successful Jpouch operation. And even that has its own problems. A person runs the risk of pouchitis (which can seem like a flare-up from UC in many ways), treated with frequent trips to the toilet, dehydration, blockages, etc. This best-case scenario is usually divided into three steps / separate Operations performed in which the patient has to carry a temporary ileostomy bag for a number of months. Sometimes this surgery can be done in two steps, and rarely in one nowadays due to the increased risk of complications. There are other types of pouches, albeit significantly less common, such as a spouch, wpouch, and topouch as well.
Does that sound like a “cure” to you? Does it sound like it is in the same world as an appendectomy, the cure for appendicitis?
I painted the best case scenario and believe me when I tell you that most people who have their colon removed are not so happy! When I went in to have my colon removed, I had the impression that I was going to have my sick organ removed, wake up with a jpouch, and had no idea that anything was ever missing. I thought I would just keep going. I actually wondered why there were doctors for this disease and not just surgeons. It made me wonder why I went through so much before; why I ever thought of something like prednisone and all the horror that caused me at such a young age. I wondered why my parents and doctors allowed me to destroy my life by being in and out of the hospital so much, undergoing non-stop procedures and terrible tests when all I had to do was make my sick Colon was removed.
And then I got my answer. Surgery is a great f * ing deal! And it is an even bigger thing if you remove an organ that is NEEDED for a healthy digestive track. Not having a colon is not like not having an appendix, or your tonsils, or your wisdom teeth, or your gallbladder. You notice it.
As most of you probably know by now, I was far from the best scenario when I had my colon removed to “cure” my ulcerative colitis. I went through years of physical trauma and mental agony. And now I have a permanent ileostomy.
Am I grateful that I don’t have to be on medication because my sick colon has disappeared? Yes. Would I ever want it back? Of course not. Am I in any form and compare UC and CD? No, and I would never do it.
All I am saying is that when you say that the cure for ulcerative colitis is removing the colon, it is sending the wrong message.
It tells people who have no inflammatory bowel disease and who are trying to get more educated that those of us who have their colon removed will now live a life as normal as before the diagnosis. And that’s just not true.
We need a real cure for Crohn’s disease AND ulcerative colitis. The removal of a vital organ should never be interpreted as an answer, and it pains me to see foundations and advocates either sending this erroneous message or blatantly ignoring what ulcerative colitis patients are going through.