I've had my ileostomy surgery for 33 years now due to UC since I was 10 years old and life is great! No running to the loo hoping I make it on time, no meds, I can eat anything I want (and it shows!), no pain, etc. If everything else has been tried and/or her quality of life is such that she has no life, then I say 'go for it' - but I'm biased because I know how great life can be after surgery (you'll find most people who have had surgery saying the same thing). It will be tough for the first few weeks, but she will feel heaps better after it.
99% of people say to me after surgery: "If I'd known how well I would feel, even immediately after surgery with the pain of the stitches, I wouldn't have spent so much time and energy trying to save my colon".
>>how many scars on her stomach
I've had two surgeries - one to perform the ileo, the second to remove my anus and rectum, but I only have one scar. My surgeon just cut over the top of the previous scar for my second op. I don't call them scars, to me, they're 'survival wounds'. :)
>>how to function with a bag (it is gross and as a college student she shares a restroom with 40 other girls)
She will function much better after she heals than she is with UC, knowing she won't have to run to the loo hoping she makes it on time, she will gain so much energy and be out enjoying herself so much that, generally, she'll forget she even has a bag for most of the time.
>>Does the bag make noise?
At first she'll have a lot of gas and consequently the stoma will make a lot of noise, but that generally settles down after a few weeks.
>>How will it effect her future fertility?
Having an ileostomy shouldn't affect her fertility (I've known many ileostomates becomes mums and dads after surgery) however there is a chance that a j pouch could affect her fertility. Because of this, some people opt to have kids first before having their final j pouch surgery. However, many j pouchers have become parents too so there's no guarantees one way or the other.
>>How will it effect her relationship with her boyfriend?
I've only ever had one guy reject me cos of my ostomy - but that was his loss. Most guys will just be glad she's alive and well and able to be with them. Nowhere in Personal ads have I ever seen 'must be tidy, friendly and poop via rectum and anus'. How you poop is simply not a criteria most people base a relationship on... and if they do, I bet she doesn't want anyone that shallow anyway!
>>will others be able to tell?
I go swimming regularly every summer and no one in 33 years has ever commented they can see my bag under my bathing suit! No one need know she has a bag unless she tells them.
People say to me all the time "I've never met anyone with an ostomy". I just answer "I bet you have, you just haven't known it :)" When I started the job I'm currently at, I was looking at my ostomy website one lunch time and the girl who was training me glanced over my shoulder and said "THAT'S where I know you from!" She had an ileostomy due to UC too and had been on my site several times. Except for the fact I was looking at my website, neither of us would ever have known the other had an ileostomy even though we sat next to each other all day long at a desk.
Her ostomy won't stop her from doing anything she wants to do - only her mind will!
Best of luck with the decision.
I have had an ileostomy for 33 years now due to UC.
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I'm not a complete idiot - some parts of me are missing!