After most treatment options failed, Chelsea Freeman found relief through surgery.
When Chelsea Freeman was diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis (UC), she immediately began trying treatments for UC. For many people with UC, these treatments can bring relief from UC symptoms like frequent and bloody diarrhea, and can help them reach and maintain remission.
Unfortunately, the medications didn’t work for Freeman. She tried every possible treatment for UC and found no relief—and even worse, she suffered unpleasant side effects in the process. According to Freeman, the disruptive and painful bathroom issues became her “new normal.”
“When Chelsea first came to see me, she had severe ulcerative colitis which was deeply affecting her quality of life,” says Sergey Khaitov, MD, a surgeon specializing in colon and rectal surgery at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “She required multiple medical treatments, which unfortunately did not work well enough, and after very extensive discussion with her, we [made the] decision to proceed with an operation.”
The operation was a colectomy, or a surgical removal of the colon. By removing the large intestines, UC is essentially cured because there’s nothing for the immune system to attack. Learn more about Chelsea’s colectomy here.
After the surgery, Freeman had yet another “new normal” to adjust to. “Everything just took a lot of time and patience,” she says. But that patience paid off: “I don’t have to worry about going to the bathroom. I can go to the bathroom whenever I want. I don’t have to be controlled by it.”
Now, Freeman only has small scars on her abdomen where her ileostomy was, and from the surgery itself. She regularly has follow-up appointments with Dr. Khaitov and her gastroenterologist to ensure everything continues to go well.
Although Freeman struggled with the surgery, she’s thrilled with the results. “I had the best possible outcome I could have had for my surgeries. I couldn’t have wished for a better outcome for myself.”
Freeman wants others who may be suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases to not ignore or shrug off their symptoms. “I know that going to the bathroom feels like an embarrassing thing [to discuss with a doctor], but it’s a real medical condition,” she says. “It’s serious, it affects your life, and how you feel about it is valid.”
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I'm so excited for my future and I'm so
grateful that I had those surgeries done.
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When Chelsea first came to see me,
she had severe ulcerative colitis,
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which was deeply affecting
her quality of life.
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You get diagnosed and
you have all these bathroom issues.
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It's the new normal.
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She required multiple
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which unfortunately did
not work well enough.
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And after very extensive
discussion with her,
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we took decision to
proceed with an operation.
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You have surgery for
your total colectomy, and
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it's a whole 'nother new normal.
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So everything just took a lot of time and
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Today, Chelsea comes for
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a routine follow-up visit.
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She does very, very well.
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She's extremely satisfied with
the results of her operation.
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I don't have to worry
about going to the bathroom.
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I can go to the bathroom whenever I want.
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I don't have to be controlled by it.
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Chelsea has small scar,
where her ileostomy used to be.
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And she has several and
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nearly invisible scars on the abdominal
wall from the laparoscopic equipment.
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I know that going to the bathroom
feels like an embarrassing thing, but
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it's a real medical condition.
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It's serious, it affects your life,
and how you feel about it is valid.
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Chelsea has excellent prognosis.
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The only thing she needs is to
have routine follow-up with me and
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her gastroenterologist, and she should
be symptom-free, and she's disease-free.
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I have the best possible outcome
I could have had from my surgeries.
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I couldn't have wished for a better
outcome for myself or hope for one.
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Surgery for Crohn’s disease & ulcerative colitis. New York, NY: Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. (Accessed on January 31, 2019 at http://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/resources/surgery-for-crohns-uc.html.)