I’m Alannah-Jayne, 21 years old and this is the life-changing story of my battle with Inflammatory bowel disease.
I have suffered with IBD since I was 13, and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 17 in 2012. I have had to go through losing weight (my lowest at size 4) to putting on water weight from steroids and water retention to a size 10.
One week I can be a size 6-8, and then the next a size 10+. Now after some time with getting used to this, I have found myself gaining confidence rather than losing; wearing jeans and crop tops showing off my ileostomy bag – which i describe as my medal of life.
Since being diagnosed and having friends or boyfriends leave, I have found it difficult to sustain permanent relationships with people around where I live. I have been bullied at times and when I tried college in 2012, I was bullied to the point that it made my physically ill, and worsened my condition.
“But how did you end up with an ileostomy?” people ask me. My answer is always open and honest to anyone who asks me – I feel no shame in being proud of what saved my life and gave me a second chance at it!
In June 2015, I had been in hospital for months and I was only getting worse going to the toilet 60-70 times a day. Because I had been on steroids since 2012, my body became immune.
A couple of days before surgery I developed septicaemia from my large bowel, which is blood poisoning. I felt ready and so excited for surgery but of course I also felt naturally scared of ‘going under the knife’.
When I awoke from surgery, I was in some pain but it wasn’t as bad as my expectations! I was home within a week and found myself talking to one of my best friends Levi. She added me to some support groups via Facebook and i was so blessed to have such amazing support from people going through exactly what I had, that I hadn’t ever met!
I underwent more surgery again in September 2015 to remove my rectal stump (the diseases were still active and put so much strain on my organs, I was given until December to live if I hadn’t had the surgery.)
This time around, I didn’t feel scared or nervous. I knew I had a huge number of people supporting me , I had spent 10 months in total in hospital throughout 2015 so the support me and family had received is what really got us through.
Having met some of the amazing people through the support groups and talking to others from the other side of the world, I no longer feel alone, scared, depressed or ashamed of having my Lola stoma or having IBD.
I know that however bad my health becomes, I have someone behind me saying “I believe in you Alannah, you are so brave.” All it takes is someone to believe in you!
Words by Alannah-Jayne