My #GetYourBellyOut story: Yvonne

I was only 12 when diagnosed, so it was all very scary. I had suffered for too long already. Every time I ate something I would run for the toilet. My mum picked up on it and took me to the Drs. Back then Crohn’s Disease wasn’t really heard of, especially at such a young age, so it took the Drs a while to pick up on it.

It wasn’t until I lost so much weight that I ended up in hospital on drips and being tube fed that they realised what was wrong. My Crohn’s Disease was so severe that when they went in with the camera to investigate, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Colitis on the spot.

It took a really long time to get on top of it. I couldn’t even tell you how many tablets, treatments and scans I had. It was such a hard thing to deal with at such a young age. They did however, eventually managed to get my Crohn’s Disease under control with Methotrexate, but it wasn’t long until it came back fighting again, this time in the form of an abscess in my bum.

When I was 20 years old I became really unwell. I was attached to drips and meds and was weighing in at only 5 stone. So, the decision was made to give me a looped colostomy. I recovered from this operation and soon went home, but something just wasn’t right. I felt awful and suddenly, I really needed to pass stools out of my bum, but that was now impossible surely?!
Well it wasn’t, I started passing stools out my bum despite having a colostomy? I become very unwell and was quickly rushed back into hospital with septicaemia. My looped colostomy had fallen apart inside at the point of where my Crohn’s Disease had previously caused so much scarring to my bowel that it had just given up.

I later had a permanent colostomy made where they removed all the old scarred bowel and I’m pleased to say that my colostomy has been ok ever since. However, I still had this Crohn’s related abscess. As it was in my bum, the consultants called it a horseshoe abscess. It was just horrendous. I since developed sepsis, on several occasions because of the abscess and nearly died.

I had the abscess for about 9 years and had surgery on it every 2-3 months. The only way of getting rid of it was to have a proctectomy but there were risks involved that could have impacted on my chances of having children. So whilst I had this horrible abscess, I was blessed in being able to have two beautiful children. It was then, after I had had my children that I chose to have the proctectomy done in October 2016, so I now have the barbie butt.

Despite my surgeries I still find that I’m always in pain, extremely tired and my energy levels are low. I have B12, iron and potassium infusions to help give me a boost and go to the Drs every week for bloods as routine monitoring. Due to having a low immune system, something like a sickness bug could put me in hospital.

The hardest part has been that I’ve had to go into hospital so much, and I always hate leaving my husband and two girls. The worst part was when I was pregnant with my second child, felicity. I had a Crohn’s flare and my bowel was twisted. My little girl stopped growing so they had to get her out early at 35 weeks. She was in intensive care for two weeks with a machine helping her to breathe, but she soon recovered and is very healthy now. She is now 4 and my other little girl is 7. My pregnancy with my 7-year-old, Autumn, was a blessing. She actually sent my illness into remission when I was carrying her. I had two C sections with my girls because of my Crohn’s Disease but they both are very healthy and make me so happy. They make my illness easier to live with and they understand my illness more than most adults do.

Luckily, IBD hasn’t affected any relationships. Everyone around me is so supportive and I’m really open about it, which I think helps massively. My husband has to be the greatest man in the world, the way he loves and cares for me – he is out of this world. He’s absolutely incredible and it doesn’t faze him one bit how I’ll I am, if anything he loves me even more because of it.

To be honest, I have lived with Crohn’s Disease for so long now that it has become the norm to me. I’ve had 57 operations and live with the concern that I’m seen as a complex case with my Crohn’s Disease. I live in fear of catching sepsis every day but I hope there will be more treatments available soon.

I love my colostomy bag and show it off to the world over on Instagram to try and help raise awareness. I like to help others in the same boat as me. It makes me feel at ease knowing that it saved my life and that I wouldn’t be here without it.

GetYourBellyOut gives people so much more confidence, knowing there are others out there sharing belly pictures, which brings so much comfort to those who also have an ostomy like myself. It makes us feel special and proud, so I want to thank GetYourBellyOut CIC for making this happen and for doing what they do.