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American Expat Expecting Colostomy Reversal In "developing" Country – Scared To Death

Hi everyone,

I am a US expat who has lived for the past 14 years in adeveloping “2nd /3rd” world country in Latin America (Costa Rica).  I had an emergency colostomy (Hartmann’s?) in August 2016 (performed at a public hospital here in Costa Rica) after suffering a perforated colon from previously undiagnosed diverticultis.  I am a 37 year old male.

I have no other known health problems besides a nasty 3-pack a day cigarette habit and drinking far more red wine than is healthy.  

At any rate, I am on the (Costa Rican) government waiting list now to have my colostomy reversed. 

Long story short, Costa Rica has a nationalized healthcare system for citizen and legal foreign residents (of which I am and have been for 14 years).  I was born and raised in the US, and maintain US citizenship, but I do not have insurance in the US and basically am not eligable for insurance in the US as I understand it because I have spent so much time away from the US that I am no longer considered a “resident” of my home state in the US (or any other state for that matter).  So basically, I HAVE to get the reversal surgery here in Costa Rica as part of the public health system here.

I had no serious complications following my initial operation in August 2016, so I like to believe that the doctors/surgeons here know what they are doing, but there are things that are ‘disconcerting’ about medical care standards here compared to the US.  (For instance, for my 12 days in ICU recovery following my surgery, it was in a small room with 6 other patients WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING in 95F heat… another recovering patient next to me who was having blood transfusions or something after suffering a near-fatal machete attack -not kidding- would constantly spill blood all over the floor next to my bed that was rarely cleaned up, restrooms that smelled so bad of urine you literally had to hold your breath in there, etc.).  

So here I am, contemplating having reversal surgery in that same hospital.  

I am hoping to hear from either other people who live in ‘developing’ countries who have had reversal surgery, and/or doctors/medical professionals who can tell me how ‘safe’ it might be to have this procedure done in a public hospital in a developing country (specifically, Costa Rica).  I found out after my first operation that the doctor that operated on me to give me the colostomy in the first place (and who would be the one to do the reversal), literally does everything from extremely minor surgeries (literally from surgically removing growths on people’s skin, to amputating fingers and limbs, to gastro surgery, and who knows what else.  In meeting him, he sometimes comes off as so forgetful, unorganized and just plain medium-IQ and/or goofy that you would think he was a low-dollar car mechanic, yet this was the same guy who operated on me during the emergency in August and everything was fine.  

The bottom line is, to be honest, I have a severe ‘death phobia.’ – I almost don’t care how arduous the recovery might be, as long as I DON’T DIE.  

Can anyone give some feedback?  Does anyone have some realiable statitics on MORTALITY (death) during or following colostomy reversals in developing countries like Costa Rica? (Doesn’t seem this information is readily available here).

Tambien hablo español si alguien de latinoamerica quiere responder en español.

Bottom line is, I’m scared to death.  In general, in most areas, this country tends to run a few decades behind the US in many ways, so I’m also curious historically, say what the mortality rate for a colostomy reversal in the US would have been say, in the 1970’s or 1980’s, because that is probably about what we’re dealing with here.

Thank you all for your stories about having both successful and non-successful reversals, I really appreciate all of you who share your experiences.  I know I am in a sort of unique situation but I imagine I’m not the only one?



3 Replies:
American Expat Expecting Colostomy Reversal In "developing" Country – Scared To Death

Reconnect My Colostomy

Just left my surgeon’s office. He said my emergency colostomy was due to diverticulitis, not Ulcerative Colitis or Cancer, and it should be safe to reconnect me. I have already had an EKG by my primary care physician and it was clear. However, Dr. Carter still wants a release from my cardiologist. I have an appointment to have a colonoscopy through my stoma. When the release from the gastroenterologist and the cardiologist get to Dr. Carter, we will do the reconnect through the old incision. I do not have a hernia now and he warned me against exercise other than walking for the next year. Of course, it is hard to walk with no cartilage in my left knee or left ankle, but I will do the best I can. Prayers are requested, please.

0 Replies:
Reconnect My Colostomy

Flying Within The USA With A Colostomy

I have a friend who will  soon be flying from TN to N.C. and she was given two cards, one that is blue that said Urgent use of bathroom….guess that is for emergencies and a white one that she is to show to the scanners and they are suppose to take me to a private room to be “pat down”.   Has anyone else flown recently and recieved these cards and do they work when needed?  


She is also scared of “blowing up” in flight which I doubt will happen but has anyone traveled recently and if so have you experienced any problems either with security or in flight problems?


I have had my colostomy for 4 years but have not flown in that time and she has not had hers a year yet and is new to this.

2 Replies:
Flying Within The USA With A Colostomy

Colostomy Vs Ileostomy

Looking for feedback from those who have ileostomies and especially anyone who had a colostomy that was changed to an ileostomy.

A little over 6 years ago I got a permanent colostomy. But now my gastro doctor said because of a bad stricture and polops in my bowel he is recommending to my colon surgeon that it be made into an ileostomy with most of my bowel removed–right now I have about 40% of my bowel left.


Anything in particular, any suggestions or ideas you have that will help me adjust to an ileostomy?

In particular I also want to know:

Am I likely to lose weight with more of my bowel removed?

Will the ileostomy be less noisy, less gassey, than the colostomy?

Will I have trouble with medication, pills, not fully digesting with less bowel?

Will I have more skin issues, leaking and such with the ileostomy?

I have Crohn’s Disease with no signs of the disease in my small bowel. By getting rid of most of my large bowel am I less likely to have Crohn’s issues in the future?

Anything else I should know?

Much thanks for your thoughts and feedback!

0 Replies:
Colostomy Vs Ileostomy


I have a temperory colostomy following

removal of an early rectal cancer. T1-T2

i had a few surgery related challenges 

but I am now home and getting better. 

Coping with colostomy but look forward 

to reversal one day .

i am keen to hear from women who have 

had or are considering reversal . 

On my discharge all the nurses 

have encouraged to return for the 


Thanking you all for your time. 

0 Replies:

Colostomy Reversal Experiences

Hi. Two weeks ago I had my colostomy reversal surgery and wonder if others out there would be willing to share their experiences with me on pain, any issues after surgery (what I should look out for) and any long-term issues as a result of having the colostomy or reversal surgery. I only had my colostomy for 9 weeks before the reversal (got it early Jan 2017 as a result of emergency surgery to address a burst colon from diverticulitis. Thank you so much.

0 Replies:
Colostomy Reversal Experiences

Ileostomy Vs Colostomy

Hello, I am looking for information from anyone who has had a ileostomy and then had a colostomy.  How do you feel about the difference beteen the two?  If you had the ileostomy and now have a colostomy are you happy with the change?  I am interested in anything you can share about the two procedures.  I have had a ileostomy for 18 months.  I have been told I am not a candidate for a reversal and the doctor has mentioned possibly doing a colostomy.  I am wondering if going through another major surgery and recovery is worth it.  I am 69 years old and function very well with the ileostomy other than the hernia I have developed, which will have to be delt with as well.  Sincerely, Sunnyone 


1 Replies:
Ileostomy Vs Colostomy

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