To Reverse or not to Reverse - That is the Question

To Reverse Or Not To Reverse That Is The Question

They told me my stoma would just be temporary

When my bowel perforated, it was one of the most horrendous experiences of my life. We 'might' have to perform a 'temporary colostomy', they said, 'just for 6 months'. Well, that wasn’t strictly true, was it...

By mid-afternoon (when the stoma was mentioned), I’d already had two quadrant peritonitis, so it wasn’t exactly rocket science that I was in trouble. At 2 am, the first incision in theatre meant we were now dealing with four quadrant peritonitis. I was very ill by then and Intensive Care beckoned, with a Hartmanns procedure to follow.

Hartmanns procedure is not so easy to reverse, it turns out. Add wound infections to the picture, followed by an abscess which burst. My situation was becoming increasingly complex and my recovery felt like it took forever!

The more I found out about reversal, the less I wanted one

Then I started researching it all and what a reversal would involve. My knowledge as a qualified personal trainer came in handy. Two years down the road, I had put off reversal twice already. Being mentally traumatised by the whole experience first time round was bad enough without going through yet more surgery but, also, my life had become so active again that the thought of at least 3 months doing nothing whilst I recovered from reversal was not appealing!

I don’t want to risk my active lifestyle

I finally feel like I have my life back at the moment - phew! I’m ‘me’ again, confident of myself and my femininity. There are some issues, sure, around being incontinent and stoma bag leaks aren’t much fun but with my new Aura pouches that happens much less often than it used to with other bag types. So what to do? Should I risk what I have in order to go for a reversal?

I go backwards and forwards in my mind. One day I’m like, “Yes, let’s do it!” and then I remember that I’d be putting myself through yet another operation…for what? Just to change the way I poo?! Plus, I hate surgery. I’m one of life’s 'doers', I don’t have time to be incapacitated!

Share your experiences to help me decide

It’s nearly three years now since I began my ostomy experience and I’ve met some pretty cool people… brave, courageous, kind and caring ones. So, I would love to hear from you all and share your experiences in the comments section of this blog. To reverse or not to reverse? That is the question which I am fortunate enough to have a choice about...what do you think I should do?

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by Jay Hyrons

Jay Hyrons

About the author

Hi I'm Jay. My stoma was unexpected and very much unwanted, in fact it still is. I am a qualified Clinical Personal Fitness Trainer and a former National Champion Bodybuilder. After eight abdominal surgeries I am still Hernia free. You can see the video made in partnership with CliniMed here Core Exercises to help prevent Hernias and you can get other fitness tips on my YouTube or follow me on Instagram.

Recent Comments

  • Helen Densham

    I have a temporary stoma after major surgery
    My concern is the leaks I have had in embarrassing situations.
    I am therefore looking forward to the reversal but I do know it won't be like it was pre surgery.
    If you live life to the full with the stoma then further surgery is debatable.

  • Blaze Callahan

    I'm going through your dilemma right now and I can't decide either. I have gone back and forth Just Like You. I have had nothing but trouble with my lower intestines since I was 16 years old. Since I got the colon ostomy I have virtually no discomfort and can eat anything I want. The main problem is is that I frequently do eat anything I want and have gained a little weight. my surgeon and my second opinion doctor are encouraging me to reverse. So even are the people in my ostomy support group. I don't know if it's fear that is motivating me or Instinct, but right now I would rather not do it. The problem is that I have to have an operation of some sort because my stoma is herniating. They tell me there are side effects to inserting a mesh including infection. So there are downsides to both procedures. I honestly, really, don't know what to do. Thank you for posting this, it's good to know that I'm not alone.

  • Shottee

    I had my ostomy through emergency back in 2016.
    I've been living with a loop ileostomy for 4 years now and today I have an appointment with a surgeon to find out when he will be doing a reversal. I myself for a long time thought I'm so healthy right now, why go through with it? another day's I'm like why not. I guess this year I'll find out.

  • angela

    hi i,had stoma fitting last year after damage bowel from key hole surgery ,was very ill after and long recovery and like you 8months later felt i was getting back to me ,but always had problems with stoma due to hernia behind and found i didnt want to go out with friends cause was always worried it would make noises ,so i decided that if i could go bagless i would. Mentally i was struggling with it! So i took the decision to reverse 4weeks ago ,after 2 days i was up and walking and left hospital after 5 days , i had to be open up again for hernia and scar tissuee strangling bowel ,so yes lots of pain and yes its hard to go back to poor health ,not being able to drive etc ,but ive done 4 weeks and i now want to have a fart like normal and it feels good , glad i have done it but know its a long recovery! I did it for my head as i couldnt cope with it ,we are all different and all have different issues, but i did go reversal and happy i did.

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