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Effects of living without a colon
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Effects of living without a colon

In the long run, does living without a gall bladder or colon (neither of which I have), affect digestion and metabolism?
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Without a gallbladder people may or may not have problems digesting fats - it depends.

Without a colon - whose major function is to reabsorb water from the contents that are passing though - the fecal output could be a lot more watery. In one portion of the colon we also have some bacteria that tend to produce a lot of the short-chain fatty acids we need (but can't make ourselves), so that might produce some problems over the long haul.
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I have lived without a large colon for the last 15 years.  I do ensure I am adequately hydrated since I don't absorb as much water, and I increasea my sodium and potassium intake.  Otherwise there are some small adjustments for reducing high fiber foods.

I also have hypothyroidism which results in a slow metabolism.  I have put on a lot of weight since I had my surgery (ulcerative colitis is now gone) but just lately have been able to get the weight loss moving.  I feel very healthy.
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712087_tn?1229489284
i am 22 years old and had a total colectomy in june b/c of a c-diff infection.  i just had an ileostomy reversal yesterday.  how is it to live without a colon?  i have done it for the past 6 months, but had the ostomy.  what is it like without it?  will i ever feel normal again?
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Avatar_f_tn
Swisler, why don't you post a message to Morecambe who has been doing the 'living without a colon' for awhile. I think you'll get a lot of good advice and comfort from hearing it directly from 'the horse's mouth,' so to speak.
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Hi Morcambe.  CalGal said I should post a message with you, suggesting you might be able to give me some advice.  I'm a 22 year old college student.  I had a little girl in May and apparently had toxic C-Diff the last month of my pregnancy.  the result ended up being nearly dying of the infection and subsequently having a total colectomy, not to mention my daughter was only 4 lbs b/c of it.  I got to see her three times in the first three weeks of her life b/c i was so sick.  the first hospital didn't treat it properly and i was medi-flighted to another hospital where i was told if they didn't do an emergency colectomy i would die before any antibiotics would take affect.  I have never experienced any pain like this in my life and would never wish it on my worst enemy.  It hurt to laugh, it hurt to cry, it hurt to breathe.  I spent two more weeks there with an ileostomy.  I guess i never really dealt with any of it, just kinda pushed it back like it never happened.  I had my take down yesterday and have no idea how to deal with not having a colon, physically or emotionally.  I know it's not some huge deal that everybody can see but i feel it.  i know and i hate it.  when they did the takedown, the dr. also informed me i have endometriosis.  I just don't understand why any of this had to happen.  I know i'm still here and i should be thankful for that, but i'm still angry.  I'm not a bad person but **** just seems to keep on happening.  i'm not trying to feel sorry for myself or wallow in pity, but the phrase "****  happens" seems way to simplistic.  my husband loves me and was awesome through all of this, but just can't understand why I still think about it or let it affect me.  I just always think the bottom is going to drop out now.  I can't stop worrying about everything.
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712087_tn?1229489284
I'm  so sorry everyone.  I didn't mean to post that long message publicly.  I've never done this type of thing, or sought advice like this.  I didn't see the member list to the side and i have to apologize for everyone seeing my emotional rant.  i'm usually much stronger than this, but i guess in my moment of weakness you get the whole story, or most of it.  so again, very sorry that it seems like i'm just wallowing in self-pity, i'm not trying to
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Avatar_m_tn

Hi - I'm pleased to offer any help that I can and, first of all, I do hope that you can continue your recovery.  Basically I think that you have had to endure medical manipulations that have "snowballed" semi-out-of-control and you are entitled to feel "cheated".

Also, there is no harm in recognising that you may have been more mentally traumatised that you imagine following all the things that have happened and, if you feel this way, then do seek psychological advice rather than (as we British say) "keeping a stiff upper lip"!!.  If you had survived a plane crash where people around you had died or been injured, you would feel traumatised.  What you have gone through has similarities with what I just described especially as your little daughter's life may have hung in the balance.  After my experience, I felt a heightened awareness of risks and challenges that I had not perceived before and consulted a psychologist. So do talk to a qualified counsellor/psychologist soon.  Although you mention having to cope physically and emotionally without a colon, please be assured that the absence of a colon is purely the removal of a "piece of piping" just as the removal of an appendix or tonsils etc would be.  I think that the emotional part of your suffering is entirely down to the the understandable cumulative effect of all the crises that have faced you.

Can I refer you to a previous posting which I placed on Medhelp in response to a question from another Medhelp patient:-

http://www.medhelp.org/posts/show/523166

Please have a read through that and see whether it contains some of the answers that you seek based on my own experiences.

But on the more general point - yes it is possible to live normally (well almost) without a colon.  A colectomy is a "big" operation and you may well require ~ 6 months to recover in full.  Almost five years after my operation I lead a normal life and the only "after-effect" is the increased number of #2 toilet visits during the day (~ 4 during the day and 0-1 during the night).  I keep my motions semi-solid by eating a high-fibre diet including fresh fruit, vegetables and wholemeal bread + oats/bran etc.  I feel that this high fibre diet has a similar effect to throwing sawdust onto the kitchen floor to mop up a liquid spill. - i.e. it "de-liquifies" my motions from watery to muddy/sludgy.

Does this answer your questions?  Hope so but I am "at the end of an email message" and more than happy to try and help further.

Good luck
Morecambe


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Avatar_n_tn
I have lived without a colon since in was 121/2 years old. that was back in 1962.  I had Crohn's disease that just could not be controlled and came very close to death.  I had my surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. I was fortunate enough to have had an angel of a doctor named Rupert Turnbull( the leader in that field).  I had a colostomy bag until I was 16 and then had the reversal surgery. The Crohn's was pretty much undercontrol after the initial surgery with a couple bothersome events like adhesions and rectal fistula.  But after age 20 I'd have to say my life was as normal as anyones.  I may eliminate(bowels) faster after meals than most people and ( somedays) more often but over all I have led a wonderful "normal" life.  I have had two wonderful pregnancies and delivered through scheduled C sections both times.  Now that I am in menopause I am experiencing issues such as osteoporosis .  I attribute that to steroids that I took way back when as well as the lack of current issues of malabsorbtion of nutrients.  I consider myself to be in good shape( better than most women my age) .  My weight is perfect, I lift weights and walk regularly.  I would gladly answer any questions you or anyone new to the "no colon" club may have.  My number one suggestion...have a sense of humor about things...when I had the colostomy bag I gave my stoma a name.  All my close girlfriends knew my situation.  I wasn't  ashamed .
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi Swizler,
I just happened upon this site.  I permanently lost the use of my colon and rectum and for 13 months my small intestine (all of which were perfectly healthy).  This happened during a surgery that I turned out not to even need.  Mis-diagnosis, surgery done wrong, the list goes on.  Almost died of scarred in colon, rectum, and small intestine. Because the damages were so complex and they were done by docs, it was VERY hard to find help from another doc.  FINALLY I found one that did the only thing that could be done, take the adhesions off the small intestine and do a permanent ileostomy. So I can relate to your trauma reaction.  I've been trying to process it for 2+ years now.  Have done a lot of travel, but when not traveling, I feel really down.  Plus I am desperately trying to get a handle on the whole dehydration/nutrition issue to feel the best I can and go on with life as this is what I have.  I miss my healthy colon!  But at least I'm still here.

Rose
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello everyone!!! I was 25 when I had my total colectomy done (2008) and had a "blockage" last year which was terrible!!! Anyways, I am a very active guy (running, lifting, basketball, etc.) and have notcied that fatigue sets in a little harder now than in my "pre-colon" days.  I know I'm getting at that magic age of 30, where I finally realize I can't do the things that I was in my early 20's, but I have to believe that not having a colon has to play some role.  I realize that hydration is a major factor and I drink more water than ever.  I was hoping that maybe someone had advice as far as nutritional/dietary adjustments they have made that have made a significant difference for them???
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Avatar_f_tn
hi everyone.. i had a total colectomy in 2005 with the  reversal in 2010. the only real problem i have is the constant diarreah (diarrhea). i take shots of sandostatin three times a day whick helps greatly. it is incapacitating at times and it tends to make my sugar levels up and down but i no longer need the bag and i hopefully will be off the shots within the next year
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi.. I'm new to this site...  I had a colectomy 6 months ago and have been out of the hospital for 5 months...   I also do not have  a gall bladder.....   I'm looking for  answers / support....  does the pain/discomfort lesson over time?   is depression normal?   and does the fatigue last?  I appreciate any info... Than  you
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Avatar_f_tn
Darbyp, read some of Morecambe's posts. He's doing quite well with a colon and has found ways to cope with the loose stools and other issues. You also may want to start a post of your own. Your quergy is buried among others and someone who can address your issues may not stumble upon it.
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I had my gallbladder removed in 1998. And now facing the real possibility of my colon being removed. I am 46. I have chronic fatigue now (please tell me that will NOT get worse) I have had diarrhea for 15yrs!!! So if that is the MAJOR thing I have to get over, I have it covered!  I already take Multi-vitamins, B 12, Vitamin C each day.  And I drink a LOT of water (I don't drink soda's or anything with sugar)  I DO LOVE salad! I eat pretty healthy. What kind of changes in my diet/daily life am I looking at making?
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Avatar_n_tn
My girlfriend had her Colon removed but she's in a Coma,I know the Lord Jesus will save her,can you live without pain ok?My girlfriend also has M.S,please pray for her she's only 56.
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Avatar_m_tn
i'm 32 years old with no colon this is the first time I've really talked about it over the internet I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when I was 15 it got so bad that they told me if I don't respond to the antibiotics and steroids that they had me on through an iv that I would have to have emergency surgery luckily through the grace of god I responded in a good way to the meds so years went by then in 2010 I had my colon removed it was so perforated that they had to take a piece of my small intestine out also recovery was to least say painful I had to wear a bag for three months while I worked that was a challenge but they reversed it when they did I went home 8 days later I had a fistula which came out right under my bellybutton that took about three ties to fix they finally went in and glued it back together and luckily it worked then in 2012 I had two anal fistulas which is very painful to fix that they had to put seatons (rubberbands) in there he put two down there but one remains because the other one lets say came out that's my story in a nut shell if anyone has any advice please post back
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Avatar_m_tn
I had ulcerative colitis for about eight years before they decided to remove my colon in about 1993.  (By that time the excessive steroid use had ruined my left hip, so that got replaced in 1995.)  I had a procedure where they fashion a "bag" out of the end of your small intestine, so after having a temporary ostomy bag for about six months, the surgeons removed the ostomy and you are theoretically "normal".

It took some getting used to, for six months or so, and my stool is very watery, but other than a lot of trips to the restroom, I live a normal life.  Spicy food can burn, so I take fiber to slow things down, but only on an as-needed basis.  I am vigilant about hygiene to prevent chafing which can be painful.  But I still backpack (one night in the bush max), bicycle (sometimes 100 miles), walk and eat anything I want.  I don't think I consume more water than the next guy.  Sometimes I regret a spicy dinner, or that last glass of (red) wine, 'cause I have to hit the restroom several times at night.  But on the whole, the minor concessions are trivial compared to the ulcerative colitis nightmare.

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Avatar_m_tn
Hello all, thank you so much for sharing your experiences.
I'm a 45 year old male about to go through the surgery. During a colonoscopy about 10 months ago the Dr. found polyps, they were removed, biopsied and found to be precancerous (on one side of the colon).
The GI Dr rescheduled me for another colonoscopy and 3 months later they were back. I was referred to an Oncologist, who did genetic testing etc. and referred me to a Colorectal Surgeon who again found colon polyps, this was about 3 months after the last inspection.  
I am opting to have about 80-90% of my colon removed.
I'm trying to stay optimistic. The rest room breaks should not be an issue at work. I know it will take time to adjust. I've scheduled 6 weeks vacation/sick leave and hope to be able to return to work "light duty" after that.

Based on the experiences of those who've had the surgery is 6 weeks enough?  



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Avatar_f_tn
It took me a long time to get better. I do believe that the healing process really depends on the person. I went back to work 2 months after the sugery but ended up in the hospital 3 months later. This is not anything to play around with. Keep in touch with your doctors and let them know how you feel and how everything is going. Keep a journal on everything so that you do not forget anything. This will help.
It has been 8 years and I live a normal life as best as I can. I hate public restrooms, I think that is the worst thing for me. I drink lots of water because I can and have gotten dehydrated. I can't eat a lot of things that I use to love. Still love it but I have to weigh the consequences. I do feel so much better over all and would do it again if I had to do it over. It is so much better than living in constent pain.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks, for your reply the sad part is my surgery isn't to reduce pain or complications, I had returning precancerous adenoma's/polyps. My Surgery was on the 3rd I entered on a Tuesday morning, I spent ten days hospitalized and was released on the next Thursday. Sadly I did not learn much to better my situation from my Dr.,  and I have to be honest I've endured allot of discomfort. I already spent my first night home in an ER, my wound was partially infected and opening/oozing.

Gas will cause pain, and the meds do not work on the gas pain.
Sugar and dairy are two things that cause gas

ANY TIPS ON HEALING AND WHAT PITFALLS TO AVOID AND WELCOME  Thank you
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Avatar_m_tn
I am going to try to go without the pain meds  ...they slow metabolism and slow breathing so are counter productive. I am sure I've already seen more "substance" to my stools.

I'm going to get up out of bed more, maybe sitting of a comfy couch

I'm seeking activia yogurt as a good way to start to eat easier...IDEAS?

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Avatar_m_tn
I had my entire colon removed in 2004 (at age 49) due to the hundreds of cancerous and pre-cancerous polyps found in my colonoscopy. I seem to have FAP. The first six months were pretty tough. But the surgery itself was not so bad.  I lost a lost of weight that I didn't need anyway, and I really suffered from the diarrhea.  My bowel frequency was sometimes once/hour for a while, oh --  and no coughing, laughing, sneezing, sudden movements and , honey - that is NOT gas you want to pass.

I was not ready for work for about three months, and then, still had to be close to the bathroom.  I had to take it with humor.  I told my doctor I could write a book about bowel movements and their infinite varieties.  Much of the outgoing looked exactly like the ingoing!  I couldn't eat anything green or tree-like in shape, or corn, or peanut products, or much oil, or alcohol, or spicy stuff at all.  Over time, though, I have mellowed out on the frequency.  Normal now is 3-4 daytime/ 0-2 nighttime pit stops.

I have had about 10 intestinal blockages due to adhesions. Only one of those required surgery, and the Dr. nicked the area with his scalpel and it popped .  Much infection after that.  It was extremely painful, smelly and took a long time for the incision to close.  Out of work that time nearly four and a half months.  Many types of exercise hurt my scars now. Looks like some of my intestines or abdominal tissue healed adhered to my skin.

I never had the bag, they simply hooked up small intestines to the rectum.  My skin is still sensitive, and picante foods do give that dreaded second burn.  I find I have better retention of stools if I eat the first few bites with a starch or protein.  If my first bites are vegetable, everything shoots through faster. Otherwise, I eat most anything I want to eat.  But my energy level is much lower.  And I still have the occasional 20-pooper day that wipes me out.  Over all- things are nearly normal, and I'M STILL HERE!  Have hope.  I still do what I want, when I want and If I never told anyone, they'd never know.
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Avatar_f_tn
How many bowel movements do you have a day?  
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Avatar_m_tn
It's reassuring to know that you are coping without your Colons, I have just been told today that i need to have mine removed.
It's quite a shock being told that and it takes a little time to sink in. I'm scheduled for surgery in four weeks. My problem stems from having loads of polyps, some larger than golf balls. They removed some 4 weeks ago and none was cancerous but they stated that it was dangerous to remove others, so i wont know until after the Colon is removed whether those are cancerous or not.
I'll keep you all informed.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks Trudie for your input.
I lost the majority of my Colon 12 days ago due to dozens and dozens of polyps. They connected my small intestine up to the small amount of colon remaining.
Presently i feel ok, have been out of hospital 4 days but i am unsure what quantity of fluids i should be drinking each day. Do certain foods slow the movement through the bowel because at first it was a real problem, having 20 instances each day. It took almost 4 days for my bowel to start working again and during that time i was terribly sick, they never warned me of that!
Even with regards to pain relief i lost out. They couldn't fit an epidural due to erosion of spine and i couldn't tolerate Morphine since it made me sick.
I perhaps need to spend some time reading others posts, so as to know how best to manage  this. Thanks.
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