In May 2009 (around that time at least), I started getting the symptoms of what I now know to be Crohn’s disease. I had lost half my bodyweight between 2005 and 2007. ( I thought I was just doing really well at dieting!) So maybe it all started back then, but it wasn’t until May 2009 until I started having the ‘hardcore’ symptoms, such as the cramping after meals, discomfort going to the toilet, more weight loss, fatigue and anaemia… At the time, I thought the cramping was down to an intolerance to lactose and decided to just avoid dairy, and that all the cramps and discomfort would go away. Of course, that didn’t happen.

IMG_1821November 2009 was the time everything kicked off – bought a house, went through risk of redundancy… stress started to add to my poor health and eventually it reached a peak where it all climaxed into a big mess. I had a colonoscopy (which was very traumatic and, even with more of the sedation stuff that they usually give, was very painful and I cried the whole time.) They took about 20 biopsies and I was given Buscopan, but it wasn’t helping. When I went back to get the results of my biopsies, the consultant’s registrar took one look at me and decided to admit me there and then. So in February 2010, I was admitted to where I stayed for 10 days in the Digestive Diseases Ward 29. I was completely dehydrated and my HB levels had gone down to 6 (you’re supposed to have a level of at least 10) so was given five units of fluid, two units of blood, a diet plan of liquid food replacement to rest my bowel (this stuff called Modulen), Prednisolone and Azathioprine. I went home after improving… but it didn’t last long.

Six weeks after starting the Modulen, I was allowed real food again and, while I was very happy and very excited about having food again, it turned out to be rather unpleasant when the cramping came back. And even worse when my hip started hurting and I couldn’t put any weight on my left leg so I had to use a walking stick. The gastroenterologist said I’d need my GP to refer me to a rheumatologist for the hip pain, but when I saw my GP, he was suspicious. He said, because of being on immunosuppressants, it might be something more than just a bad hip. He went back to my gastroenterologist and said that it was a GI issue and that I needed further investigation.

Sure enough, I went back into hospital where I had various scans (I think at this point I had had every kind of scan there is!) and the MRI scan and ultrasound scans finally revealed a HUGE mess of stuff. What had in fact happened was that my colon had perforated and waste and pus was collecting near my hip in the muscle, hence why I couldn’t straighten it. It has also numbed the top of my thigh. It was called a Psoas Abscess. Once they found this, they said the only option was surgery; a temporary ileostomy, with a chance that I’d have a mucous fistula too. I went in for emergency surgery on 28th March 2010 and had the damaged parts of my ascending and descending colon removed, resulting in a mucous fistula and ileostomy. And, of course, the abscess was drained. My stoma is called Stan, and my mucous fistula is called Colin. 

I have had many ups and downs since then. Recovery was slow because my midline incision wound popped open, partly due to the high dose of steroids I was on. The open wound was 13cm long x 5cm wide x 3cm deep and had to be packed daily by the district nurses for seven months.  I had several leaks a day due to my problematic pointy-down stoma, and my peristomal skin totally broke down, so even more complications. But I got stronger and stronger every day and overcame each hurdle. And before I knew it, I was back at work! I managed to put on all the weight I had lost (plus a little bit more…) and now I am learning to live an active and healthy lifestyle! I have a newfound love for fitness, and especially Beachbody’s workout programs like TurboFire and Focus T25, and I have met some amazing friends along the way! Plus, I got married in September so life is definitely on the up! I’ve been blogging and making videos about my life with two ostomy bags so head on over to my site if you want to find out more: 

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