Hello, my name is Lorraine and I am 37 years old. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis when I was 18 years old. For me a flare was usually brought on by stress and in 2010 I had a very severe flare up due to major life changes which resulted in emergency surgery to remove my colon and give me an ileostomy. I didn’t even know that my illness could get that bad until it happened.
I know that sometimes other ostomates struggle just to get their head round the fact they now have a stoma but I adjusted very well. Before my surgery I was very unwell and so to be pain free and not constantly vomiting and running to the loo was fantastic. All I wanted to do was to be able to run around after my little girl who was only 15 months old at the time and having a stoma allowed me to do that.
Even though having a stoma doesn’t worry me I have to admit that the surgery was a difficult one to recover from. I had complications which resulted in me being in hospital for around 10 weeks! I was also a bit of an emotional minefield after the anaesthetic which thankfully wore off! And I didn’t manage to scare away my true friends and family even though I’m sure most of them would’ve liked to have slapped me on a few occasions haha! (Not mentioning any names…)
The ‘bottom’ line (pardon the pun) is that, for me, having an ileostomy has enabled me to live normally and it doesn’t stop me doing anything. Some of the things that I think have been helpful for me are: the countless people I had praying for me and knowing that my friends and family don’t see me any differently. While I was in hospital I asked a friend if she thought I was disgusting (I would’ve clobbered her if she’d said yes) and this was her reply:
‘Lorraine, you’ve got a wee bag attached to your side, you’re no different, are you sure you don’t find the rest of us disgusting, I mean, we have it coming out of our butts?’
That is something else I find helps – humour, and let’s face it, there are a LOT of toilet jokes! ‘Butt’ we’ll leave those for another day.