First off I don't believe it is as simple as how long a colon will last. There are way too many variables with this disease. No two people have the same symptoms and same progression of the disease but all too often each person tries to "diagnose" using their own personal understanding and history with the disease. Statistically only 20% to 30% have there colons removed. Simple math will tell you that 70% to 80% don't, meaning they live out their lives without surgery (my assumption is their disease does not progress as far as mine did, thank goodness). Simply, some people's colons make it and some don't, more then likely based on how bad the disease has progressed.
When it comes down to surgery only around 15% to 20% are considered emergency surgery so statistically 80% to 85% are "elective" (I hate that word) because there is no other category. The only way to be classified as emergency is if they have to go in immediately due to extenuating circumstances (toxic mega colon, perforated bowel and such). That means almost all cancer surgeries that have time to be "planned" fall into the "elective" category. Now even though everyone has not been faced with the worst this disease can dish out doesn't mean there isn't a dangerous, fatal side to this disease. I spent five days inches from dead, immobile and completely incoherent and it is all due to UC and prednisone (I became septic because my adrenal glands shut down because of the steroids). The possibility of this happening again to me was high considering the only thing that would slow my attacks down was prednisone and it didn't work all that good and only for about two weeks. Since none of the meds or diets worked in five years the only solutions I had were surgery, or live with it and hope the prednisone didn't kill me. Not really an "elective" choice if you ask me. More like choosing the lesser of two evils.
As far as the paper colon, mine was "fragile" by the surgeons standards which accounted for the extra two hours in O.R. She explained that this was more then likely due to the years of inflammation and steroid use but the steroids can cause this rather quickly, like two weeks I think she said so that would be a few weeks shy of a yearly colonoscopy detecting that.
With the "dealing" with pooping my pants in public, I don't think so, that causes for some serious sanitary and health issues not to mention all of the personal issues. If my car fails to work when I need it to I take it to a mechanic. If the mechanic cannot fix it I get a new car or make arrangements to acomplish what I need transportation for. Same with my colon the mechanics (GI doctors) spent five years trying to fix it with no success so I got rid of it and now use alternate transportation (poop in a bag). Just because I was not on my death bed at the time of my surgery does not mean that the surgery was "elective", but the best part is after 15 years of symptoms and five years of diagnosis and all kinds of drugs I have my life back and finally have some form of control over my BMs. If someone wants to say it is elective or I just wasn't able to tough it out and take care of my colon, so be it. I can finally go out without the worry of imminent embarrassment because of this horrible disease. Also within a month I will be on only one pill a day for my GERD not the 35 a day I was on before. Elective or not, I am truly cured, no treatment, no symptoms and no risking my life with my medication. Surgery worked for me and my unique condition, but that doesn't mean it is the cure all for everyone.