My Success Story

Much information about pouches describes problems that are experienced. Here’s an honest account about what I feel has been a very successful pouch.

I became seriously ill with Ulcerative Colitis in 1999 (in fact, I spent most of my 40th birthday in the toilet), and after just a few months, I was told that the colon would have to be removed. It was at an annual inspection of my remaining rectal stump that a pouch was recommended, and I was given all the information I needed to make a decision. I really feel I made the right choice, and will be always grateful for that option.

I was in hospital for just under 2 weeks for the first operation in February 2007. There was a small complication of an infection where I was sown up, but I was back at work full time in 5 weeks, and even cycling in 6 weeks. My second operation was in May of that year. The operation was on Tuesday, I was home on Thursday, and back to work on the following Monday! I was even running again within a few days! I do agree that in this respect, I was extremely lucky, and some others have issues which affect their recovery from surgery.

It took 3 or 4 months to settle down, to the point that each day was pretty much the same, without any surprises. In February 2008, about 9 months after the final surgery, it appeared to start to work as the large intestine would have, in that the output was better and more stool like than any output I had ever had from the stoma. Also around that time, I was able to “fart”, but only in a certain position. I had been told that I would be able to release air, but I wouldn’t “be able to knock any walls down”, as one pouch owner put it. I am always amazed at how the anal sphincter somehow can tell whether air can come out safely, or whether there would anything unwelcome with it.

Three years later, I feel no different from anyone else who never had the problem to start with. I eat everything (except curry, but that is just my personal taste). I do everything (all day cycling expedition, run a marathon, drive 240 mile journeys to Liverpool without stopping, swimming) without giving the pouch a thought. But according the possible outcomes described by my surgeon, I am probably in the least successful category, according to the number of times I need the toilet per day. I go 6 to 9 times a day, and normally once at night. A lot of that is down to the amount I eat – which is a lot – so it must be a case of more in means more out! But I can hold on for at least an hour, normally 2 hours. Many times, I go to the toilet because I can, and it just makes me totally comfortable again. I have no pains at all; having stocked up on peppermint oil capsules for stomach aches I used to have with a stoma, I haven’t touched one in over a year.

I was warned about a number of things. For example, that I would need to apply cream every time I go to the toilet. Well, maybe I do once every couple of months. Otherwise no skin soreness at all. That I would have to be careful what I eat – I eat everything! That I would be on Loperamide for the rest of my life – I take two tablets every couple of weeks, when needed! That I would be deficient in some mineral or vitamin – no sign of that, I have loads of energy for life.

To have my body image back, without the unorthodox appendage that I had to conceal within my clothes, is such a relief. No more 10 – 20 minutes every morning to change the bag and clean up. No more bags blowing up like a football inside my trowsers. Feeling normal again. Priceless.

If I can give any support to people considering pouches,  I would be very pleased to – please go to “Contact Us”!


Andrew Millis