My name is Maggie, I’m 18, a senior in high school, and ready to head off to college this year.
I’m just like any other teen. I play soccer, I attempt at playing guitar, and live for the ocean. I make YouTube videos, to help others with their IBD and ostomies because I myself have both.
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 11 and went through all of the usual treatments and procedures such as a colonoscopy, endoscopy, upper GI, and medicines. I was doing pretty well up until the summer before my junior year of high school when my gastroenterologist informed me that I would need to have my ileum and a portion of my colon removed. After having that surgery, they discovered the connections they made after removing the pieces had fallen apart. I was immediately sent into emergency surgery where they placed an ileostomy, leaving my colon to heal.
I remember sitting in my hospital room a week after that surgery wondering how I was going to live my life with an ostomy. No more soccer, no more ocean, no more freedom. I thought I’d be stuck at home unable to go to school or even hangout with friends.
Friends came to visit me in the hospital and slowly I told them one by one of what I now had attached to the side of my stomach. Expecting unusual looks from them, I was surprised by their understanding and attitudes toward it. To them it was no big deal, and soon thats what it became to me, too.
Now, a year and a half later I am back on the soccer field, back hanging out with friends, and back to the ocean. I see it as not something to overcome, but rather something to be proud of. I walk the beach with scars and ostomy showing, knowing that nobody is judging me for it. Having this ostomy no longer affects how I live, and my goal is to help others see that they shouldn’t let it affect how they live, either.
Update: March 10, 2012
I am so glad to tell you all that I have survived my first semester of college. It is everything high school isn’t; you actually learn from classes, everyone wants to meet everybody, and… well, actually the food is still pretty terrible. Other than our food problem here, though, college is great.
My stomach, however, has different plans. A stricture I have in my colon is causing me to get minor surgery every couple of months now rather than every 6 months. I’ve had a few long nights with the old stomach, but mainly my Leroy and I have been quite happy.
This spring semester is flying by with me having tons of work in class and me working on the YouTube channel and jewelry store. I keep in mind though that after all of this work I will be a fantastic nurse with much experience (at least IBD and ostomy care) in the medical field. I’m working on guest speaking at my school to help others understand what IBD and an ostomy are and to further my confidence.
I am really starting to see how badly the stoma can affect a person’s confidence and, although never terrible suffering from lack of confidence, I know that I will not be able to help others if I do not understand my own issues first. I’ve recently been doing quite a bit of self-reflection trying to figure out first, why an ostomy does this to us, and second, how we can solve this. Why should something that, more often than not, saves our lives cause us grief? I do not understand it at all but even me, the ostomy YouTube girl who runs on the beach with duct tape bags, suffers from lack of confidence. Hopefully I can figure some of this out and help everyone in the future.
For right now though, I’ll lead by example!
Watch my New Video on Spring Fashion.
Also Dating with Crohn’s, Colitis, and an Ostomy.