I have come across so many people, clients and others, who have experienced PTSD after the J-pouch surgeries that I felt it was time to finally write about it. This is not intended to scare anyone who may be facing these surgeries. I think that in these circumstances it is best to be prepared from all angles about what may or may not happen before, during and after these surgeries. Being prepared is the best defense because then you can deal with it before it becomes a problem.
When people think about PTSD, the first thing that usually pops into their heads is that it is something that war veteran’s experience. But really take a look at what PTSD stands for: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. So it can happen after experiencing any kind of traumatic event…and from my own experiences and from those of the many people I’ve talked to who have had these surgeries, they can definitely be traumatic, especially if you’re not well prepared. Unfortunately, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and all the other crazy emotions that a lot of people feel during and after these surgeries is not something that any doctors to my knowledge talk about…at all. They only talk about the medical side of it, which I get because they’re medical doctors, but at least a mention of the potential emotions that one might experience would be helpful!
So what does this PTSD look like? Mostly, it’s the anxiety and fear of getting sick again and having to go through anything remotely similar to what has already been experienced. I wouldn’t say that I’ve had full on PTSD after my surgeries, but I definitely experience some parts of it. The fear of getting sick again, having to go back to the hospital again or going through another surgery can be terrifying sometimes. Also, being away from my doctors can be really scary. I recently got back from an almost 2 week trip to Europe. The anxiety and fear of something going wrong while I was away and not being able to see my doctors was so overwhelming that I almost didn’t want to go. Another symptom of PTSD after these surgeries is flashbacks. A lot of people that I’ve talked to say that sometimes out of the blue they will have flashbacks of a certain time while in the hospital or during recovery and that it brings back all the emotions they were feeling at the time. Sometimes, just thinking back on everything you have gone through can be emotionally draining. For most people, the period of time from when they were sick enough to need the surgeries until after the takedown is kind of like a “do or die” situation. Nothing else matters during that time other than getting through it and getting healthy again. So for a lot of people, dealing with emotions at that time is just not an option. They just need to be focused on getting through it. So after the takedown, when things are finally starting to get a little bit back to normal, these emotions can come on like a flood…uncontrollable and overwhelming.
So for those of you who have experienced PTSD or are experiencing it after your surgeries know that you are not alone and that this is completely normal. The best thing to do is to find someone to talk to about all the feelings you are experiencing. That way you can find a way to cope with your feelings, accept what has happened, and live your life again. For those of you who may be facing these surgeries, please don’t let this scare you. It is better to be prepared going into the surgeries so that you are better equipped to deal with these emotions if they arise. Even after all the things I’ve dealt with during and after my surgeries, I would still recommend the J-pouch surgeries to anyone. They were life-saving and they have only made me stronger.