By: Skye Williams
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease on July 14, at the age of 14, prior to my Freshman year of high school. At the time of my diagnosis, 75% of my colon was already severely inflamed. Crohn’s Disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the digestive system. Crohn’s Disease affects everyone who has it differently. For me, Crohn’s Disease was constant & severe abdominal pain, severe weight loss, bloody stool, continuous urge to use the bathroom, anxiety, and ER visits that turned into long term hospital admissions. As you can imagine, Crohn’s Disease made my life very difficult. I spent the majority of my four years of high school admitted in the hospital. After four major surgeries within 15 months, and exhausting nearly every medication on the market, I was left with no other option but to undergo surgery to receive a permanent ileostomy.
After finding out that I would have to undergo surgery for a permanent ostomy, I was distraught and in disbelief. I honestly could not believe that I would be living with this on my stomach for the rest of my life.
What could I have possibly done to deserve this? As much as I wanted to call off the surgery, I knew that it would be pointless because it wasn’t a matter of “IF” I would have to undergo the surgery, but more so “WHEN” I would have to. During this operation, the surgeon created a hole in my stomach with a portion of my small intestine coming through to relieve waste.
The surgery took an incredible toll on my self esteem, making me self-conscious and developing negative thoughts of my body image. I was embarrassed to go out in public and I began distancing myself from my friends. I wasn't sure how I would tell people, and I was afraid of how the world would now perceive me. Although I had previously had the bag for a few months, this time was different because I knew that the ostomy would be permanent and there was no turning back.
At my most critical moments, I would cry and ask myself “Why me?” Now, I sit back and ask myself, “What is my purpose?” Now that I’m on the other side of the storm, I am on a mission to spread ostomy awareness and its effects on kids, teens, and young adults like myself. I stand to eliminate the negative stigmas surrounding ostomies. I don’t believe that anyone should be ashamed of a device that was created to save their life. I am here to advocate for and mentor young people with ostomies.