I've had my ileostomy for 31 years due to UC, since I was 10 years old. My ileostomy gave me my life back, no doubt about
that one. I was on 21 tablets a day, going to the loo 20+ times a day, was on a very restricted diet, was in pain all the time, basically I had no life!
Since my surgery, I've finished primary and highschool, work full time, travelled the world, ridden elephants and camels, been rock climbing, can eat anything I want (and it shows!), no pain, no meds, etc all without a problem.
As for absorbing nutrients, yes we do. In fact, most people with an ileostomy due to UC tend to find they put on a lot of weight after surgery simply because we are getting the benefits of all our food now rather than having it all washed away in the loo.
I empty my bag between 4 - 6 times a day depending on what I have or haven't eaten (basically just everytime I go and pee so really no extra trips to the loo). There is no urgency either.
Poop with an ileostomy will never be better than a paste like consistency and is often watery. But that's basically because there is no large intestine to absorb the water from the stool. Therefore, ileostomates must drink more water than normal to compensate, but that's a small price to pay for such freedom after surgery.
Ileostomies will 'work' 95% of the time but that's why you wear a bag. You can't feel it working, so you only have to think about
it when it's time to empty your bag.
Would I ever go back to my pre-surgery days? No way. Life with an ileostomy is SOOOOOOO much better than life with UC.
Good luck with your decision.
I have had an ileostomy for 31 years now due to UC.
Moderator of the Ostomy Forum
I'm not a complete idiot - some parts of me are missing!