Each month we hear new tales about Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis and the people who live their lives with these diseases. We read about their battles, their struggles and how they overcome the obstacles that stand in their way. The one thing that struck me about these – rarely were people discussing the specific positives of living with an ileostomy.
A little about myself. I’m a 29-year-old designer from Sheffield. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis pretty much out of the blue, back in 2010 and since then I’ve had a somewhat eventful life. With at least 20 surgeries under my belt, 5 of which were serious, you could say I’m a bit of an expert in the field. I’ve had pretty much every infection possible and if something can go wrong, it probably will happen to me. Back when I was diagnosed, I’d never even heard of Ulcerative Colitis, and I’d certainly not heard of an Ileostomy. Luckily for me however I had the greatest team of Stoma Nurses. Patient, supportive and straight to the point, these people held my hand every step of the way and helped get my head around my new life.
I often hear stories from sufferers who are battling with the unexpected issues that arise with an ileostomy. Unfortunately due to the nature of the condition and surgery, there are many issues that will inevitably affect sufferers. However it’s not all bad. I’ve read countless stories from people who since having their ileostomy surgery have found nothing but positives. Yes, there may be the odd leak or embarrassing situation that leaves you legging it to the closest toilet quicker than Usain Bolt, but in the grand scheme of things, a few hiccups along the way are nothing compared to the quality of life these people have regained.
When I first took delivery of my ileostomy back in 2010, one of my main worries was how it would affect my hobbies and what I would and wouldn’t be able to do. Fast-forward 5 years and it’s fair to say I was worrying about nothing. Each and every scenario I worried about since my surgery has turned out to be absolutely fine. Granted 1 or 2 situations required a bit of a workaround but my ileostomy hasn’t really stopped me doing anything.
Personally for me, the biggest positive about having an ileostomy comes around every summer – Festival season. Music is my life and as an avid gig-goer, I can’t resist the temptation of a festival or two during the summer months. Now, music aside, what’s the one thing festivals are renowned for? Yep, you guessed it! – The facilities! Whether it’s the dreaded long-drops or less-than-luxury Portaloos – Either way, they’re rarely pleasant.
It wasn’t until a few years on in 2013 that my mate pointed out the golden ticket I had stuck to my stomach during festival season. Gone were the days I had to precariously squat over some rickety contraption perched dangerously over a man-made trench. Nor did I have to disinfect myself to within an inch of my life having escaped the blue port-a-loo of doom! I could simply pop in, do what I needed to do and be back out in less than 30 seconds, saving precious time for more important matters (namely cider). Obviously this is one of the more lighter hearted scenarios but I have no doubt than there’s literally hundreds of times when an ileostomy can be a life-saver, in both senses of the word.
So just remember, if you have an ileostomy, be it temporary or permanent, don’t let it hold you back. If you take a step back and think about the situation you’re facing and panicking about, you may be surprised to find that having an ileostomy, can improve the situation every once in a while!