Hi my name is Lucy Holmes and this is my story.
Until July 2014 I was your average 23 year old. I went to work, went shopping, and met friends for lunch, all the normal things you’d expect from someone of that age. Then I was faced with a set of symptoms that I initially put down to constipation. Being a nurse, I’m no stranger to discussing the ins and outs of bowel habits on a daily basis; they just weren’t usually mine!
After a few trips to my GP, tests and a week in bed I got admitted to hospital. The next day I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, the lining of my large intestine was covered lots of ulcers which were producing blood and puss, I was started on a high dose of intravenous steroids to try and calm down the inflammation. When the steroids showed no sign of working I was put on a continuous infusion of ciclosporine, an immunosuppressant often used post organ transplantation.
At this point I was going to the toilet in excess of 20 times a day, passing blood and mucus; there was nothing else in my system to pass as the colitis had totally rid me of my appetite.
Still showing no signs of improvement I had more tests and was seen by the surgical team, who advised I would be unlikely to leave hospital without my colon. So, less than a week since diagnosis I was taken to theatre where I had a subtotal colectomy and formation of end ileostomy. Without the surgery it was likely that within days my bowel would have perforated as it was already significantly dilated. The blood loss I’d suffered had taken it’s toll too, and I needed a blood transfusion during my op. Coming round from my surgery in high dependency in the company of my work colleagues was incredibly reassuring, I knew they’d take good care of me (even on my birthday, which I spent in hospital)
10 days later after a course of IV antibiotics and lots of naps, I was discharged home, with my stoma “Mabel” in tow!
To begin with I was visiting the practice nurse every day for dressing changes as my wound had had to be opened up due to infection; I also developed skin issues relating to the stoma bags I was using. But my stoma nurses were brilliant and in January 2015 everything eventually settled down.
I’ve been back at work for 3 months now, and enjoying it. My work mates have been amazingly helpful and understanding about my condition, and take great amusement in my “Mabel” tales. I’ve been very open about my condition and the fact that I now have a stoma, I want to show people that just because my body works slightly different to others that it doesn’t mean I have to live my life any differently. There isn’t anything I can’t do now that I did before I became ill.
I feel the best I have in a long time. My surgery has also given me a lot of body confidence, I think it took me being so ill to make me realise that what you look like really doesn’t matter, and a positive attitude is so much more important. “Mabel” and I are ready to tackle the rest of 2015 head on, and we intend it to be good one!