IBD | Ostomy
If someone had asked 24-year-old me what an ostomy was, I wouldn’t have had a clue. If you described it, I probably would have assumed it was the elderly that lived with one.
I would have been wrong; this is why I run www.makingtheinvisiblevisible.org.uk to raise awareness of all invisible illnesses and disabilities.
There is a lack of education for these despite the fact that 80% of disabilities and 96% of illnesses are invisible. Sixty-five percent of the public are visual learners, so that’s why I created an image to visualise things they may not see e.g. Endometriosis, IBD, ostomies, Feeding tubes etc.
At the age of 25 my life suddenly changed and I had to learn everything about ostomies because I lived with one. I was hospitalised in July 2017 and diagnosed with acute severe ulcerative colitis. In the same week I was told I needed emergency stoma surgery and I was in complete shock.
I was thankful my stoma saved my life, but I struggled to accept the changes to my body for the first 6 months. And I know I’m not alone with this. I finally came to terms with it and found ways to feel empowered in my new body. From photoshoots to wearing crop tops, I wanted to show everyone that chronic illness warriors are all beautiful and enough.
I had a lot of complications with my stoma resulting in many hospital admissions and further surgery. I’m now a j-poucher, which has helped relieve the bowel obstructions I was getting. I still get them daily but I manage them with diet restrictions and laxatives so my surgeons are trying to determine why.
My j-pouch has given me a better life.
My bowel obstructions no longer require hospitalization. , I don’t have to rush to the toilet and have accidents. I also don’t have to worry about leaks or changing my bag in public which sometimes happened. There is nothing wrong with keeping a stoma or getting a reversal and that’s why I wanted to write this story. It’s doing what you feel is right for you. Both stories can be successful and one isn’t more worthy than the other.
I’ve had people tell me I took the easy way out, tell me I should have accepted my complications, told me to only be positive but it’s all right to be honest with our journeys and understand everyone’s is different. It’s important we don’t pull down others, having a reversal is never an easy choice. It creates more surgery which comes with risk and it may not be successful.
I do however know that it’s a choice I would have made if it was given to me. Because otherwise I would have questioned if I had made the right choice if I didn’t try that option. But this is my personal choice and we should respect what others choose. I want others to feel empowered in their own skin and others to accept this. All bodies are beautiful and worthy and this is a story I’m telling through competing in pageants and running my projects.
I’m currently your Mrs West Midlands Diamond 2021/22 Finalist and run www.makingtheinvisiblevisible.org.uk in the hope raise awareness and empower those living with an invisible illness or disability.