There are risks to having surgery and there can be awful side effects to taking medication. So, how do you know what is right for you? The answer is unfortunately that there is simply no answer. These types of decisions come across the lives of patients suffering from crohns disease and ulcerative colitis far too frequently. We are forced to make these life altering decisions without really knowing what the outcome will be.
For the people whose inflammatory bowel disease is not under control, there are usually two options. The first is to try more medications and the second (if feasible) is to have surgery. It is such a difficult decision to make. Medications, as we all know, come with enormous risks. But – so does getting on that operating table. Because I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at such a young age, I didn’t have to make these decisions; my parents did. When I first got sick, surgery wasn’t even a thought and since my parents knew very little about ulcerative colitis, I pretty much did what the doctor told me. As my parents and I became more knowledgeable and my symptoms weren’t getting any better, the idea of surgery was planted in my head. I was sort of ready for it even though I had no idea what it meant. After the remicade infusions stopped working, the next treatment option for me was cyclosplorine and that was where my parents drew the line. They weren’t going to allow me to take something that could potentially harm my other organs in an effort to save my large intestine which was probably already gone in the first place. It was then, at the age of 15, that I had my first surgery.
The fact that for every 10 years a person has ulcerative colitis they have a 30% increased chance of developing colon cancer is another factor that patients need to consider. There are so many things that those suffering from IBD need to take into account when they are deciding on their next course of action. It can be insurmountable all of the life changing decisions that come alongside with having crohns disease or ulcerative colitis. The important thing is to have a doctor who you trust and who you feel is knowledgeable and understands you as an individual. If you can afford to spend a little time making a decision then my advice is to consider your options carefully but don’t spend too long because that indecisiveness will just drive you insane.
“I made the best decision I possibly could with the information I was given at the time.”
This is something my friend Kate said to me recently that I think really sums up this post. Keep saying this line to yourself and you will realize that there isn’t a wrong decision. Whether you want to try new medications or you opted for surgery…you did what YOU felt was best for you. IBD SUCKS! You just have to do the best you can and work with what is in front of you.