With my first hospital stay my father would say, “This is just a small blip in your life,” encouraging me to see past the scopes, meds and tests. He encouraged me to see that light at the end of the tunnel and look at the grand scheme of things. That this one hospital stay would be over soon enough, I would have my life back and things would be back to “normal”. A normal 26 year old girl, developing her career as a teacher and socializing with friends. A normal single female, navigating the dating scene while building an independent life, focused on goals of finances, travel, career and health….Just a normal girl.

Almost 2 years later my life is completely different all because of that first hospital stay. I was first admitted in March 2015 after a bad flare up proved to be relentless. I was having 20+ bloody bowel movements a day and I was no longer able to comfortable eat, work or sleep.  I was there for 2 weeks on steroids and then Remicade with hopes that some medical treatment would be successful.

6 months, 5 more Remicade infusions, 4 more hospital stays, 3 different doctors, 2 mental break downs and 1 life changing decision later, I decided to have my colon removed. I had dropped 30 pounds, could not seem to get back to work, sleeping all the time, and was unable to enjoy my life. However the biggest influencer in my decision was pulling clumps of hair from my head. It was so devastating as a young female to loose my hair that I was finally fed up. Fed up with being sick and feeling ugly.

So on October 3st, 2015 I had a subtotal colectomy procedure, leaving me with a temporary ileostomy. For the past year I’ve lived with my stoma as I’ve allowed my body to recover. Not recover from the surgery but recover from a life with ulcerative colitis. I very slowly improved my nutrition, my iron levels, my strength and overall quality of life. I’m able to go back to work, to socialize, and to live an active life, free of worry regarding where the closest bathroom is.

I still sometimes mentally struggle. The decision was life changing and my confidence dwindled as my anxiety rose. I am now challenged with healing emotionally as I digest the trauma and sickness my body went through. But I do so through talking, advocating and sharing my story and connecting with other who have gone through similar experiences.

Yes, 2 years of struggling with UC is just a small “blip” in the grand scheme of life. But now I don’t try to see past the struggle. I own it. This is my story and it’s shaped me as a person. Having Ulcerative colitis and an ostomy is part of who I am, and has helped me become the empowered, compassionate woman I am today. Everybody has a story of adversity and perseverance and I am proud of my own. 

Stacey Willins

Brought to you by : Premier Ostomy Centre