Seven hours later and I’m back from the hospital. The second CT went fine (other than the oral contrast, which tasted terrible, and the 45-minute wait for it to work its way through my system sitting and pacing the waiting room with excruciating back pain). Unfortunately, the results—like the first—were not good.
There is a small leak in my J-Pouch, which is causing air to build up outside of the pouch (but inside my abdomen). Bummer. The only good news is that the leak is not accompanied by a fluid build-up (primarily because all of my “fluid” is being diverted to the ileostomy) or an abscess (though in some ways an abscess is easier because it can be drained). My surgeon’s office believes the leak (and corresponding air build-up) is almost certainly the source of my fever and is likely the cause of my back pain and other pressure I’ve been feeling. I’ve been trying to say that this wasn’t just regular old back pain for weeks, so it’s nice to know I’m not crazy. Though it would have been nicer a month ago.
They prescribed Cipro—an antibiotic commonly used to treat pouchitis—which should resolve any secondary infection, the fever, and hopefully the back pain, etc. as it helps the pouch to heal.
We’re still waiting on my blood and urine tests to see if they reveal anything more, but everyone seems fairly certain that this small leak is the cause of all of my issues. My lab tests showed an elevated white blood cell count confirming an infection, but were otherwise normal.
In most cases, a minor pouch leak like this will resolve itself. It’s just a matter of time. We will likely take additional CT scans and/or a pouchoscopy in coming weeks to monitor its progress (and hopefully confirm healing). If it doesn’t heal on its own, my surgeon may opt to put me back on the table for a limited procedure to seal it. But it’s far too soon now to consider that option.
The upside is I finally have some answers and hopefully some solutions for these unpleasant complications that have been plaguing me. The downside is I can’t have surgery until the leak is closed, which means my surgery will be pushed back at least a month, which means I have to deal with the ileostomy for at least another month. Pretty major downside, and I’m pretty upset about it. But I’m trying my very best to stay positive. It is what it is, and all I can do is put one foot in front of the other and see what happens next. My nurse told me to make an appointment for a year from today to see them and promised that I’d be reminiscing about how crappy last year was, but how great life is now. I believe her. But today’s been tough.