Yesterday was a big day for Ostomates and IBD’ers which is great news and all thanks to a couple of lovely young women. BBC Breakfast did an interview with Rachel Flint (http://adventuresofthebaglady.wordpress.com/) about life with Crohn’s and the fatigue it causes, Rachel spoke openly about her Stoma and how it changed her life for the better, a very positive view on something lots of people see as negative. Unfortunately, the interview was marred by a consultant inferring that Crohn’s is caused by a poor diet (but more of that later). This ‘surprise’ element of the interview was handled very well by Rachel and David from Crohn’s and Colitis Uk http://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/ However, overall Rachel gave a positive view of living with a stoma and at least IBD was brought to the forefront and about time. Rachel’s story and her feedback on the diet issue went viral with so many shares and likes and others offering their experience.
The second positive story of the day was a young woman called Vicky who posted a picture of herself sunbathing on the beach in a bikini with her ostomy bag on full display – good for her and to date the picture has generated over 200,000 likes and goodness knows how many shares but it is more good news for Ostomates. And well done to brave Vicky who also happens to have an amazing body! So all in all a positive day of showing Stoma’s in a positive light and maybe giving hope to others who may be facing life with a stoma for whatever reason.
It has also raised awareness of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) and hopefully the general public are now more aware of the effects of these types of diseases. Unfortunately I feel that Ulcerative Colitis has become the poor relation, it doesn’t get as much press as Crohn’s and seems to get brushed under the carpet at times. Of course, with Crohn’s getting press other IBD’s will naturally also get an upsurge in awareness but it is a shame that UC isn’t discussed as much as Crohn’s – but still, it’s all baby steps and it’s still good publicity. The difference between Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis is the amount of digestive tract that it affects. UC affects the large intestine (right down to the rectum and anus) whereas Crohn’s affects the whole digestive tract (throat, mouth, stomach, small and large intestine etc.). However, both diseases are debilitating, excruciating and embarrassing.
I mentioned the inference that diet could cause IBD and I would just like to say (as many others have) that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to back this up. Many people with IBD have led a healthy life, I grew up on homemade dinners, we didn’t have takeaways and I was an active child. I had symptoms from the age of 16 and yet it took 10 years for me to get a diagnosis, by this point my intestines were so ravaged that the disease was only going to get worse. The problem in my opinion, is not diet related but lack of early diagnosis. Perhaps if doctors would take our symptoms seriously and not send us away with a diagnosis of piles or Irritable Bowel Syndrome we may get help sooner. If my diagnosis was made earlier on then I would have got medication sooner and maybe my large intestine would have stood a fighting chance and maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t be living with a permanent ostomy. This does not make me bitter, I am still glad I have my Stoma, it has changed my life for the better and I am no longer chained to a toilet. But for a medical professional to insinuate we have brought these diseases on ourselves with a poor diet, is quite frankly insulting. Of course diet affects us and our bodies, we should have a healthy balanced diet, with plenty of fresh fruit and veg and the treats limited but we shouldn’t be made to feel that the odd trip to a fast food restaurant caused us to have a debilitating condition. IBD is an Auto-Immune Disorder, this means the body turns on itself and attacks healthy tissue, there is yet to be more research done to know what does cause it.
So all in all, despite the ‘diet’ issue, yesterday was a great day for people with IBD and stomas and I want to keep that going, let’s share the blogs, the pictures and the posts. Let’s quell the idea that stomas are for old people (I used to think this too, I used to joke about having a bag when I was older because of my UC) and let’s give hope to people facing having to have one, it’s not just people with IBD but people with Bowel Cancer may face a stoma too.
And you know what, you can wear whatever the hell you like, as those who follow me and read my blog know, I have never been shy about sharing the fact I wear a bag and often like to show people! The only reason I don’t share so many bikini pics is not because I am ashamed of my bag but because I am no supermodel, I don’t have a rocking bod, and no matter how much I work out and eat well I still feel I could be a good half a stone lighter (and I certainly look nowhere near as good as the beautiful Vicky). But my body got me through a tough time and I try to be proud of it but when faced with pictures on an hourly basis of people with amazing bodies it is hard not to have a negative body image (ironic that it’s my figure that bothers me not the stoma!) But as I bleat on about raising awareness and being proud of what you have then I should practice what I preach and show you what I have!