Next test to pass: J-pouch Fitness

Matt & I left this morning for an imaging appointment at the hospital. Today we anticipated a test of the fitness of my j-pouch, ie, newly created rectum, over one month since surgery. Assuming all goes well, the surgery on Wednesday will reverse my ileostomy and reconnect my lower plumbing.


j-pouch, new rectum

I began fasting after dinner last night. I was a little frustrated at the tardy message on my cell phone this morning from the imaging office telling me that I must fast AND do a “prep kit” — was I told about any prep kit? No, no instruction on that! Fortunately, when I called the office they permitted the exam anyway. Thank goodness, because Matt & I had already driven half way there. (Later, I learned that this prep kit was only an at-home enema – and what’s that going to do? I haven’t been using that part of my body for six weeks. There’s nothing in there. Note: do your homework, people, when it comes to medical care some things asked of you are just unnecessary. And sometimes not enough, so a patient has to really be ‘on’.)

I digress… I checked in at the hospital for the the X ray. Results for this contrast exam will tell me how I healed from the last surgery, specifically how the j-pouch healed, whether there are leaks or breaches.


Contrast X ray

This one is an enema of  gastrografin, a solution that gets injected into my rectum through a tube with a balloon at the end of it. The balloon keeps the tube in place, and the solution floods my GI system, and shows any leaks or breaches in the surgical seams.

The good news came as I was watching real-time my skeleton and intestines/colon on a TV screen. The imaging tech said, “Nope, no leaks. Everything looks fine”. The assistant tech, named Fabio (I kid you not) began undoing the tubes.

“Ok,” Fabio said, “Here are some fresh robes, a stack of towels and your clothes. When you get up, some people drip down their legs, so use these towels when you walk over to the restroom.” (I had my own private bathroom for an hour).

“How long does it take for this stuff to come out?” I asked, wondering how long I would be sitting on the toilet.

“Oh it varies for people,” he replied. Of course it does. “You can stay in the restroom if you want, or go into the dressing room”. Ok…

What he didn’t tell me, that I didn’t know, is that it doesn’t all come out right away. When it stops draining, there will be more. I got as much out as I thought I could, got dressed, and said goodbye to Fabio. I walked out to the lobby and called Matt to pick me up.

THEN the cramping started. I knew there was a restroom near the lobby. I ran in there, thank goodness no line!! Some more draining. I finished and moved back to the lobby. More cramping… back to the restroom, no line. Again, back to the lobby. Cramping, restroom – this time I couldn’t make it and leaked in my pants. I cursed Fabio the whole time for not educating me… Argh! By the time Matt got there with the car, I was crying from frustration, discomfort and concern that I would leak in the car. But the urgency had dissipated. Still I was evacuating liquid all day, although less and less.

With the news of the healed surgery, I will soon exchange a bag for a pouch, or an ostomy for a j-pouch.

And with that, a mix of relief and anxiety over how the j-pouch, ie. brand new rectum, will work for me.



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  1. Your experience have renewed us.Thanks for sharing your experience with us about j pouch.The way in which this patient is living should be treated as a hats off spirit.

    • cancer4me

       /  July 20, 2013

      Wow Michelle, thank you for writing, and for sharing your site. When facing having this surgery done, I did not know where to go to understand the mechanics of the ileostomy, stoma, and what was going to be done to me. I will be glad to link to your site! I’d love to hear more about your story.


  2. Kay McGary

     /  July 8, 2012

    Your experiences have encouraged us to look at life in a little brighter light. Your proactive approach and toughness are an inspiration. We’ll be thinking of you all day Wednesday, knowing your parents, friends and all the family will be pulling for you. Way to go girl (and with Matt you can’t lose!!!!!!!)

    Kay and Jack

  3. You are so right about having to stay on top of it all. So many problmes could be alleviated if they just informed you of what to expect. There otta be a better way!!!
    So pround of you both, at least the news was really good. In the long run (whoops) that is what counts.
    As Big Al used to always say – “Some day my tears will dry

  4. Hmmmm….. Why does this experience remind me of the day Dad and I spent with you at your Doc Appointment in the very same hospital? You probably visited the same bathrooms that he did during his “sympathy symptoms”.

    • cancer4me

       /  July 7, 2012

      Yes, and I wonder how many other ‘patients in distress’ go in and out of there every day. Ha ha!


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