I am 39 and had a permanent ileostomy in November. I am a park ranger (not law enforcement but education), and I lead hikes and nature programs for the public. For some of these I am out on the trails for 2-3 hours in all weather conditions carrying a pack. Often, I am presenting nature programs up on an outdoor amphitheater stage in front of an audience for multiple hours. Yesterday, I led a 5-hour training for volunteers in 85 degree temps, including an hour where I was in the river in waders demonstrating how to collect aquatic invertebrates. Talk about sweaty! The best part was, I didn't even think about going to the bathroom that whole time... I just emptied my pouch when I got back to the office. Not only am I constantly outside for work, I am into many outdoor adventure sports as well. My ileostomy and appliance have caused zero problems for me in my career so far. Construction might be more difficult lifting-wise, but perhaps there are some accommodations that can be made while you heal up and get strong again.
I did have some wound healing issues, and my body took about 4 months to heal instead of the normal two. Still, I was still able to go back to work at 2 months even with the wound. I just took it easy and asked my coworkers to help me with things. I did have some lifting restrictions for a while varying from 5 to 30 pounds (depending on the stage in my healing). Now at 7 months post-op I don't have any lifting restrictions, though I still do ask for help when lifting very heavy items. I also wear a hernia prevention belt from NU-Hope just in case. I was also fortunate in that my employer, supervisor and coworkers were very understanding of my situation.
My career was actually one of the reasons I chose a permanent ileo. My UC had become very severe and serious, and an infusion of Remicade gave me such bad joint pain that I couldn't even walk let alone do any of my outdoor work. I just wanted to have my colon out for good, learn to adapt to life with an appliance, and move ahead. The surgery has given me back everything I had hoped for: my health, my career and the ability to do the outdoor adventures I am so passionate for. I am so glad that I had the operation. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
You can check out my outdoor adventures post-op on my blog. It is listed in my profile.
-39 years old
-Officially diagnosed with UC in 2006, though had symptoms since 1999.
-Had mild/moderate symptoms continuously until severe flare in autumn 2010 which required 2-week hospital stay
-Took Asacol, Rowasa, Canasa and Prednisone to manage flares but meds stopped working
-Tried 1 dose of Remicade but had excruciating joint pain and discontinued
-Had permanent ileostomy surgery 11/8/2010