Her Story - Her Words - Her Faith
By: Jenna Robert
My name is Jenna Robert. I am 24 years old, I live in PA, and I have an ileostomy. I had my surgery on July 11, 2016.
A year prior to having my surgery, I was just your typical college student. My life consisted of studying, hanging out with friends, and attending classes. I didn't like missing classes and if I did, it was because I wasn't feeling great health wise. During my freshman year of college, I started to get really bad stomach aches and I was throwing up a lot. It was so bad that I had to keep emailing my professor to tell him that I wasn't able to make it to classes. I thought maybe I'd caught a virus since it was that time of year. When my family saw how sick I was getting they advised me to see a gastroenterologist. I was barley eating at this point, because every time I ate, I would feel even worse. I wasn't going to the bathroom like normal, and I noticed when I looked in the mirror that my stomach was getting bigger, and I was starting to look like I was pregnant, and I was not pregnant.
When I saw the gastroenterologist she was very concerned and told me all my options. I tried a medication trial, I went through a lot of testing, and I was in and out of different hospitals to see if they could figure out what was going on with my health. I was constantly uncomfortable and my stomach was so bloated that I was having trouble breathing. After I got my tests results back it was finally concluded that I had severe gastroparesis. When my doctor took my family and I into her office and told me that my only option would be to have my colon removed and to have the ileostomy procedure all I could do is cry. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. I automatically had negative feelings due to the bad stigma of having a bag. I thought my life was over and I just remember telling my mother that I rather die than spend the rest of my life with a bag attached to me. It wasn't until after going on the internet researching and reading inspirational stories on Gutless and Glamorous's website did I realize that having a bag was in fact just a “stigma”. There were people all around the world that would be just like me and that I was in fact “Not alone”.
On the morning of July 11, 2016 I went in to have my procedure and I just remember praying a lot before they took me back. I told myself that if this is in God’s plan for my life, I will learn how to accept this, embrace this and turn this traumatic experience into something positive. After spending almost 2 weeks in the hospital, it gave me a lot of time to think and just come to terms that my life was going to change.
It has now been a year since my procedure and let me tell you, having the surgery to have my colon removed and an ileostomy placement, was the best decision I had ever made. I had been sick with intestinal problems my entire life and this was the first year not being sick. I have had the best year of my life and I am so fortunate. I have been able to travel a lot and see beautiful places, I have been able to eat almost everything without being scared I am going to get sick. I have been able to continue going to college without having to miss any classes. I have been able to exercise and be more physically active outdoors. Everyday isn’t perfect, and sometimes when I look at my bag on my stomach I get depressed but I always remind myself that this bag saved me. I am not ashamed of being 24 years old and having a bag. I am a strong woman and I am still beautiful. My life is a wonderful blessing and the trials that I face only make me stronger.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13.