On April 30th, 2011 only 14 days following his lung transplant my husband’s body started to shut down because of C. difficile colitis. This condition develops when bad bacteria living in your body overwhelmingly kills the good bacteria resulting in toxic megacolon. He had to have emergency surgery to save his life. The doctor removed his entire colon and performed an ileostomy, which is an opening in the abdominal wall that’s made during surgery. The end of the ileum is brought through this opening to form a stoma on the lower right side of the abdomen. My husband was lucky to have survived such a traumatic ordeal so soon after his transplant. The hours before that surgery was the only time he cried through this whole ordeal. He was so hungry and his doctor had promised him a sandwich and when they told him he couldn’t have it he cried.
My husband spent 3 more months in the hospital recuperating and receiving intense physical therapy for both surgeries. He suffered several bouts of pneumonia but finally started to heal and gain weight. I had to exercise his legs three times a day and rub special cream on them to repair his Xerosis dermatitis. My commitment helped him grow stronger but none of it was easy because I also had to take care of his ileostomy bag as he was too weak to do it. Thankfully on July 5th, 2012, a little over a year since the surgeries, my husband had the ileostomy takedown or reversal. This time he only stayed in the hospital for 15 days. Compared to everything else he had gone through this was a relatively easy surgery. The difficult part came after the reversal. He suffered severe diarrhea because he was missing his colon. The solution was a medication called Cholestyramine which is typically used to lower cholesterol. A major side effect is that it helps the body absorb water and fats, and creates a normal bowel movement for people without colons. This drug allowed him to live a relatively normal life until he died on December 31, 2017, from the chronic rejection of his lung transplant.