When I first had my temporary stoma I wasn’t at all confident with it. I was still poorly after the surgery and suffered an abscess in my surgical wound which needed a vacuum dressing and this simply didn’t work along side my stoma bag as one or the other would always leak. I was terrified that my bag would leak into the dressing and cause a worse infection and if it was the dressing leaking the alarm would constantly go off. I was so unhappy with the stoma. I decided to name it, so that I had a code for if I had a problem in public and needed to let my partner know, but I didn’t really care enough to choose something nice so it became Stella (apologies to anyone reading this called Stella!).
A year later after more surgery Stella became permanent. The surgery worked well and I began to feel better than I had for years. Everything turned around, I felt well and began to cope much better and began to love her to the extent I decided to give a pretty name, Rosebud, and I’m thankful to have her every day.
Having IBD and reading all the inspirational stories of others suffering, as I have, has changed my whole attitude to life. On diagnosis, I was very “why me?” and then I saw young people worrying about not being able to go out with their friends, to school or work, concerned whether they will ever find love and will this illness stop them from having children. Each of these questions and uncertainties made me so sad but also made realise that I’ve done all those things and had a good life before this disease hit me. That was a huge turning point for me and I became much more positive.
So, about my positivity. I was a fat child who grew into an obese woman, 5ft 1in and weighing seventeen stone when I was diagnosed. The weight dropped off through illness and I’m managing on a low residue diet to keep it off. The absolute pleasure of being able to walk into any clothes shop and know they will have my size is wonderful, as is knowing that the assistants aren’t laughing and saying “there’s nothing here to fit her”. To go to my GP and have him tell me I no longer need diabetes or blood pressure tablets had me walking out with a massive smile!
The huge weight loss was really expensive as, on more than one occasion, I had to buy lots of new clothes. So, when a friend, Sarah Young, who had been through the same weight issues posted in #getyourbellyout offering her clothes that no longer fit to anyone who would like them, a light bulb came on in my head!
Within fifteen minutes I had created a Facebook group, called Bellies Clothes Donate or Swap, and dragged Sarah in to work with me! The group works by members posting photos of clothes that no longer fit them and offer the items to other members for just the cost of the postage.
Its surprised me so much how successful Bellies has been and I actually have a folder with over one hundred photos of our members wearing their new clothes.
Creating the group and seeing all the smiling faces wearing clothes that fit and knowing that I have, in a small way, made people happy is amazing! For my own part, running the group has made me feel useful again and I no longer feel worthless as I did for so long.
Life for me in 2016 has been so different to the previous four years and through helping and supporting others I’m just about back to the old me!
For more information about the #GetYourBellyOut campaign please click here.
For more information about the ‘Bellies Clothes Donate or Swap’ group then please click here.