I had Crohn's in the colon and rectum for 7 years before having surgery. I tried every medicine and diet to try to save my colon, but it was just too diseased.
I have no regrets about having surgery, because I feel so much better now. I can eat whatever I want and don't have to run to the bathroom anymore. I can sleep through the night without having to get up every hour to go. I don't have to take any medicines, which also means there are no weird side effects to deal with either.
I wish I would have talked to someone who had an ileostomy years ago, so I wouldn't have been so scared. That's what's so great about this forum! You can meet people who have gone through what you're going through and can tell you that life is so much better now.
I had my surgeries done in two steps. First, we did the ileostomy. Then, eight months later, we did the proctocolectomy (colon and rectum removal). The only reason why we waited was because I was still hoping that my colon would heal during those eight months, but it didn't.
Another thing to consider is the increased cancer risk that happens the longer you keep your colon. When it's gone, it eliminates that risk. Plus, surgery is a cure for UC.
Good luck with your decision, and please ask us any questions you may have. If you want to see pictures of us, you can visit our web page at www.photobucket.com user name: crohnsdisease and password: 6mp3asa.
Dx'd Crohn's in '99 at 28. Proctocolectomy and ileostomy in '06.
Disease-free, medicine-free, and very thankful to be healthy again :)