My StoryREAD AND WATCH BELOW
I was around 17 when I first started with symptoms, I noticed a difference in my toilet habits, I was going more often, a lot of diarrhea, a lot of blood in my stool, mucus, I had lots of abdominal pain, felt really fatigued. At first I just put it down to working two jobs, I was training to be a hairdresser, doing an apprenticeship, I was working full time with that and then I worked part time as a waitress, whilst still going out with my friends at the weekend. I did put it down to burning the candle at both ends at the start and it was only when it started to really affect my everyday life I went to the doctors. I told them the symptoms I was having and they advised it was IBS, they gave me some medication for that and I came away thinking that it was going to stop everything and that was going to be that but instead of feeling better, my symptoms were actually worsening.
I went back for different appointments and again I was given medications. I knew something was seriously wrong with the symptoms I was having on a daily basis and that’s when my GP suggested for me to go for an endoscopy which is a camera round the bowel. I’m too nosey and didn’t want to be sedated, I watched the camera go round and a normal healthy bowel is pink in colour and my bowel was really red and angry, it was ulcerated and very yellow, I could see that it was really inflamed. I was going for different tests, my life became hospital admissions, scans, lots of MRI scans, CT scans that I had reactions to, I had to go for blood tests, I also started on the correct medication for Crohn’s Disease.
It was quite hard to adjust to a new life at such a young age where normal 17/18 year olds are quite free at that age, you don’t have any responsibilities and I was still living at home and I had to adjust to this new life about the foods I was eating, I had to plan around always knowing where the toilet was because of urgency but it really helped having the people around me, family have always been really important to me.
After 6 years on different medications and lots of steroids, I had emergency surgery to remove 18 inches of my small bowel and an abscess that had turned septic in 2014, I woke up in Critical Care with a double barrel stoma and I now live with an ileostomy bag. It was only once I had my surgery that I realised the importance of talking about my IBD journey. I set up Crohn’s Colitis Support Lancashire in 2017 after my son was born as there is no emotional support currently in Lancashire. I have since given all my spare time to our group on a voluntary basis, whilst running a hairdressing business. We have recently set up our new campaign Ibd Beauty & The Bag, inspiring body confidence with a stoma. I am passionate about supporting others and I am just trying to be who I needed 12 years ago.