My name is Meg Price, when I was 14 years old I started to experience problems with my bowels.
It wasn’t till september 2008 before I turned 17 that I started experiencing rectal bleeding and it was clear that it was more than IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). I had several sigmoidoscopys and colonoscopies to investiagate the inflammation, in March 2009 it had spread to 42cm from the rectum onwards. With unknowing hospital admittions in March and October 2009, Jan, March and October 2010 it was difficult working on getting A-levels and into university. However, I passed and successfully recieved a place at Manchester Metropolitain University. In October 2009 I spent my 18th birthday in hospital and on November 19th 2009 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease of the colon and ileum.
Over the years I went up the ladder of different drugs to get my bowels to stay in remission. I started on anti-inflammatrants, then onto enemas and steroids. Next was immuno suppressants and finally onto the stronger drugs as a final resort. September 2010 I started on a drug called Humira (adalimumab), this required 1 self injection every two weeks. By the november it was clear that sadly the drug was not working and I rapidly started losing weight. My appaetite started to disapear and my incontinence problems were getting seriously worse where accidents in public were happening so often I rarely left my flat. Janurary 18th 2011 I was admitted into hospital yet again, expecting be discharged by the end of the week as usual. This time it was different.
The disease has gotten to the stage where it was progressively getting even worse and I was given weekly injections of Methotrexate. By the second week I had an MRI scan and a sigmoidoscopy. Thursday 3rd February I was given the decision to either have emergency surgery or to wait and plan to have it done by key-hole. It was one of the hardest decisions I’d ever had to make and by the end of the day I’d decided to wait and talk myself into accepting the future with an ileostomy and come to terms with it.
By the evening of monday the 7th February my entire body had begun to swell. My ankles had disapeared, my feet were unbareable to stand on, my stomach bloated and my back felt like it was pushing out towards my stomach. I had severe diarrhea and had a high temperature but felt freezing cold. This carried on throughout the night and the previous day I was taken down for x-rays and tests to find out what was going on. That evening at 6:35pm my consultant, surgeon and another man appeared around my bed and broke the news that they would have to perform an emergency sub-total colectomy that very evening. My heart stopped. The man who was unknown was then revealed as Mr Anderson who was the surgeon on that evening, but my surgeon (Mr Slade) would be assisting as well as another surgeon. Within the hour I had been changed into my gown and taken upstairs ready to go in. My mum held my hand as they wheeled me in and I ready to be put under.
It was a weird concept at the time, in the state of shock and horror that I was in nothing seemed real. I tried to tell myself what was going to happen wasn’t real. The anesthetist told me to think of three things: a green feild, a beach and then some dolphins jumping in the water, after picturing the dolphines jumping out of a sunset ocean by an island I was then woken up by a woman. The operation had been performed. Unfortunately because of having emergency surgery my stomach had been cut down the center of my body, this takes longer to recovery from rather than key-hole surgery.
I was on high dependancy for a week until I moved back onto the surgical ward. My stoma didn’t start to work properly for a week and I was throwing up on average about 8 litres of bile everyday. This was extremely tiring and worring as I thought my stoma may never work. Luckily it did in the end and just a week after my operation I started to try and get used to emptying my bag. The stoma nurses were lovely and taught me how to clean and prepare my bag. 10 days later all 45 staples were removed from my stomach and physio arrived a few days later to get my used to walking up a set of stairs. By February 20th I was able to finally go home and the concept of not living in a hospital anymore was a strange enviroment. It took me around a month to be able to walk again and just under two months to sleep properly again. My mum kindly hired a wheelchair from the red cross and I was able to go out and enjoy myself finally when I could. My stoma shrank dramatically over the first couple of weeks. In the beginning my stoma was around 45mm in height and 40mm in width, now it is 20mm in height and 30mm in width (roughly).
My pathology report revealed that the entirity of my colon was severely diseased and the disease had started to spread into the walls of my bowel by 7cm. The pathologists revealed that in the end it wasn’t Crohn’s, it was Ulcerative Colitis. This was a good sign as it means I am now able to have J-Pouch surgery and not necessarily have a permanent ileostomy.
Eigth months on I can change my bag really quickly and easily, I can go out on a night out and feel like a normal student. I can go out and fun with my boyfriend and not be afraid of having accidents anymore or going in and out of hospital. Even if having an ileostomy isn’t something we’d ask for christmas, our life is. I would have a bag anyday if it meant I can finally live my life again like everyone else and it has. In another two years I’m opting to have J-Pouch srugery when I’ll be nearly 22. I would just like to say a massive thank you to all my friends and family and especially my boyfriend for being by my side throughout every tough obsticle I had to face.
No matter whether you have Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis or any other form of IBD OR an ostomy bag, you will always be able do the things you want to do in life, you will always find help and support in others, you will never be alone and no matter what happens in your journey you will always be you.
You can read more about Meg on her Blog.