My #GetYourBellyOut story: Emma

Hi, my name is Emma, I’m 31 from Aberdeenshire in Scotland.

I first fell ill in September 2007 at the age of 18 and my health rapidly went downhill from then. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease a few months later after numerous scans and tests. I had never heard of the disease before and it was a lot to take in especially with me being so young.

My weight dropped dramatically to 6 stone, I had fissures, fistulas, rheumatoid arthritis in all my joints, lumps on my legs and arms and even inflammation in my eyes. You name it, I had it! I was bedridden for months and because of this I also ended up with bed sores. I was on a concoction of different medications including steroids, but nothing was helping because the disease was so aggressive. Finally, in June 2008 they decided that surgery was my only option and that I would need to have a large part of my small intestine removed and be left with an ileostomy.

After I had recovered from the initial operation, my symptoms started to disappear, and I finally felt like my Crohn’s Disease was under control. My journey didn’t end there though as I had a lot of adjusting to do to live with a stoma bag. At first, I was so grateful for it because it saved my life, but in turn, I had to change my life. I had to change my diet which took a lot of trial and painful error to figure out what foods agreed with me or not, I had to start planning my outings around where the toilets were, and I was very conscious of what I wore in case anyone saw the bag. I had a few rough moments when mentally I struggled at the thought of looking ‘different’ to all my friends with now having a bag, but I just had to remember that at least I was alive.

I met my future husband later in that same year, got married in 2012 and we now have 2 beautiful children. I am so thankful every day that I was able to have that lifesaving operation as it truly did give me my life back. I have had the opportunity to get a reversal, but I’ve lived so long with my bag I really couldn’t imagine being without it now. The way I see it ‘why fix something that isn’t broken’.

I discovered the #GetYourBellyOut movement on Facebook, which I am so grateful for, because it’s helped raise a lot of awareness about the disease. It gave me the courage to share my story, and my belly, on social media.