Archive for December, 2009

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NEW POLL: Pre- and Post-Surgery Attractiveness

December 30, 2009

I wanted to get an idea of the difference people feel about themselves in relation to the surgery. Sometimes it can make you feel more attractive, but it can also lower self esteem if you might have issues with the scars or living without a large intestine. There are also some who felt less attractive while they were sick, so the surgery only made it better, no matter what the outcome.

Let me know what you guys think!

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My Scars Remind Me That The Past Is Real…

December 29, 2009

6 months post-op

I remember when I had first heard about the procedure, all I could think about was what my stomach would look like with a scar going down my entire torso. It was terrifying and as a gay man who was 22 years old, I had thought that it would ruin my idea of a beach body. I would never have the smooth, chiseled so greatly desired and admired by other gay men. I would never be able to let someone rub my stomach, without thinking they were wondering what the heck that thing was.

1 year post-op

But after a little bit of research into the surgical options, I found that there was a way this procedure could be done laparoscopically. It was an immediate interest for me, and I’m vainly ashamed to admit, it was a big part of me being able to decide on going through with the surgery. I had first seen pictures of the laparoscopic procedure on Mark, from Jpouch.net. I had thought that it looked great and hardly like a major surgery had been done at all. Seeing those pictures gave me a lot of comfort.
 
Further research found me a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, where I eventually went through the surgery. I remember the night before the surgery, as I was brushing my teeth, I stood there and stared at myself naked in the mirror for about 20 minutes. I looked over every inch of my body to memorize any changes I might see in the future. I rubbed my hands over my torso to feel the smoothness. I tried to imagine the big scar, and then think how lucky I was to be able to have it done laparoscopically. I thought about whether I was going to be comfortable taking my shift off, or whether I would have a shred of doubt as to where people might be staring. Then again, being sick took me out of shape, and the prednisone made me gain weight, so would I even feel comfortable having my shirt off in my current state anyways? I didn’t think so.
 
Towards the end of my self-pity mirror session, I suddenly got a bad cramp and had to head to the toilet for one of my frequent bowel movements. That moment right there assured me that no matter what the aesthetic cost, getting rid of the damn disease was worth it!
 
As I write this one year later, the thoughts of those scars are completely out of my head. I was pre-occupied with the ostomy for 3 months, then pre-occupied with the healing of the wound for another couple months after that. I had used Mederma, but didn’t find that it helped all that much. Maybe I should do it in another year, when the scar is considered ‘old’. I had a fabulous summer, and I was shirtless for most of it, just showing off my scar as an advertisement of what I went through and what I survived. I even get a little entertainment out of it, because it’s so funny to see people’s faces when you tell them you got stabbed in a gang fight. Or you got shot while trying to save an old woman from a stray bullet. Or you have a second belly button. Or you had an ‘I ❤ Mom’ tattoo removed.
 
You can create your own story, and make it as far-fetched as you want, because no one else is going to recognize those scars, besides a fellow j-poucher. As far as me, I still rub my hands over my torso all the time, and even though it’s not totally smooth, it’s painless and it’s a feeling of self-accomplishment. I often think about getting a tattoo arounds the scars as a symbol of what I went through, but I can’t even begin to think of what I would put there. Plus, I like it just the way it is, and I wouldn’t trade it in for a set of six-pack abs (okay, maybe I would, hahaha).
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2 Weeks Without Lomotil… Still Good!

December 28, 2009

So when my Lomotil script ran out, I contacted my doctor’s office in Cleveland, OH to call me in a new one at my pharmacy in Albany, NY. Apparently, a recent NYS law requires that the actual hard copy be there for controlled substances (which I just found out Lomotil was). So they called the office a couple times and it made my feel bad, because I work in a doctor’s office and I know how annoying persistant calls can be. I got an e-mail from the nurse and she said she sent it out in the mail. Unfortunately, they sent it to my parent’s address in Syracuse, and with the holidays, I knew it would have taken forever, so I just decided to wait until I got home for the holidays.

So now I’m back in Albany and I just dropped the script off at the pharmacy this morning. But I’m realizing that I have already gone two weeks without using the Lomotil and don’t seem to have many noticeable differences. It’s not that I go to the bathroom any more frequently, but that I noticed it was a little more liquidy. But I don’t think it requires me to take 6 pills a day. So I’m going to keep it on an as-needed basis, or maybe just take one at dinner, and then have my fiber supplement at lunch. I think this should manage it nicely.

I used to continue the Lomotil religiously, just because I was recently dating someone and I wanted to make sure it was as controlled as it could be. Also, you want to make sure it’s not too liquidy, because we all know that can also create a problem when you want to be intimate.

Does anyone else take Lomotil, and do you notice a difference when taking it? If not, what other supplements do you take?

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UC & Relationships: Obstacle or Challenge?

December 21, 2009

So living with UC or Crohn’s, or living post-surgery, can be very tough if you are single and trying to start a relationship. Belieeeeeve me, haha.

Some of us were in relationships when we first got sick, and I give immense credit to those partners who stuck around with us while the timing was tough. I have the deepest respect for you, because it is very hard to understand what your partner is going through and the type of emotional rollar coasters they go through, as well as the intense physical changes they experience. Those relationships may have been strained by the disease, and either ended or grew from working through it.

But then there are some of us who are single and facing the challenges of how to bring a relationship into our already crazy lives. There’s always the question of whether you should bring something up to them in the beginning or wait awhile. But then again, they are seeing you go to the bathroom all the time, so I think it’s better to bring it out in the open, so they aren’t wondering why you always head to the bathroom. They could be thinking a lot worse things, haha.

For those of us living post-surgery, it’s something you may be able to keep discreet for a lot longer. At least until you get your shirt off. I know most of the time I end up telling someone is because they ask what the scar is on my stomach. I had it done lapyroscopically, so I only have little poke-hole scars, and one bigger scar from the ostomy. That’s usually the only one they notice. Sometimes I joke that I got caught in a knife fight, or that I was “in the wrong place, at the wrong time”. The look you get back is priceless and totally worth any strange thoughts they may have. Then I tell them I’m joking and confess the true story, which coincidentally gives the same face, haha. Most of them can’t actually believe that you can have your whole large intestine out. So I continue to joke and say that you can’t have the whole thing out, and I just did it anyways to be used as a test subject. If anyone can get past my dry sense of humor about this surgery, I know they’re a great person.

I have to say that of the guys I’ve dated since the surgery, every single one of them accepted me for it, and was even a little curious about it. Some would come back the next day with information that surprises me, only to find out they went home and googled it. That always makes me smile, because to have someone research a topic so they could understand it more means a lot to me. Some would want to see the pictures from the surgery, while others were fine without that. One main thing that sits like an elephant in the room, is that we may both be thinking about sexual practices. I wonder if they think whether or not I can have sex, and they might actually be thinking that same thing. So I usually just toss it out there, so we can get that topic out of the way. I tell them, yes, I can have sex.

I have an ileo-rectal anastamosis, which means I still have my rectum. That means I would still be able to have sex. People who live with the j-pouch are not advied to have surgery, because the sutures are right at the end, and very vulnerable to damage. But that is going to require it’s own post at a later time.

One unfortunate thing I have to say is that each relationship is still always bothered by this journey. I can say that 100% of the time it’s my fault. I have insecurity issues and I have yet to get over them. But it’s only been 7 months since my last surgery, so I know I have more time to accept things. I’m confident that once I’m totally comfortable with myself, I will be able to let someone into my life completely and have a successful relationship.

So I now want to open a topic about how relationships work for you? Have you had success? Were you already in a relationship? And did it fizzle or grow from the experience? Do you find it hard to date, and when do you usually bring the topic up? Has anyone had any bad experiences that they would like to share? I would like to hear from as many of you as possible so that others can see the experiences people go through and what the final results are. I think the only way we can accept ourselves is to know that others accept themselves and to learn from example.

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Welcome All!!!

December 20, 2009

Hi everyone!

My name is Michael and I am a 23-year old gay male that was diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis in February 2008. I lived with the disease for almost a year, before finally deciding to have surgery in December 2008. I documented my journey on another blog, jpouch.net. You can read my stories on the following links:

http://www.jpouch.net/photos/boots-uc-journey/

http://www.jpouch.net/2009/04/20/boots-uc-journey-part-2/

I started out using that blog and it was a GREAT resource for people living with the disease and contemplating surgery. I got a lot of information, because I was able to talk with people that had lived with it, and also had surgery with a multitude of results. It also let you know what to expect before and after, which can get rid of a lot of confusion. The only thing that still confused me, was that I am gay and was looking to see how it affected gay individuals. I searched the internet up and down, only to find minimal results. I did get through to someone on jpouch.net, and he helped me answer a lot of questions, but there were still so many I had.

Since posting my story on jpouch.net, I’ve had many other gay people (more than I thought) contact me, or comment on my stories saying how it was such a relief to find someone else gay and going through this disease. That inspired me to start my own blog on being gay living with digestive diseases, or living post-surgery. It is a totally different perspective for gay people (gay men mostly), because we don’t just use our intestines for digestive purposes. It can be a dramatic lifestyle change, and I know that was the NUMBER ONE issue for me when I was sick. I had a partner for over two years when I got sick and it put a serious strain our relationship, and lead to the end of it. It was also hard for my family to understand where I was coming from, so I hope this site can be a support for family members as well.

I have done much research on this topic, as to what to do before and after surgery, what kind of sexual practices can you do, how do you psychologically face living with a disease that makes you feel immensely unattractive. So I ask that you use this site to get answers from me or other people who have been through similar situations. I would also like to post polls to see how people are affected by certain issues. This is a totally open topic blog, and you may ask anything you like, we are not discriminate, and there can be no topic too taboo. You may also be anonymous if you like. If you want to speak with me personally and identify yourself to get my perspective, you can e-mail me at Booties4986@aol.com. I will help you out to the best of knowledge, and if I can’t provide an answer, I will find one for you.

This is an issue we need to bring into the light, and I ask for your help! All members of the LGBT, heterosexual, or curious community are welcome to visit and post, I hold no discriminations and believe we are all here to make our lives healthier and happier. Let the fun begin!!!