I started feeling sick when I was 16 and suffered from terrible cramps, diarrhea, nausea, anemia, and tiredness all the time. it took many grueling tests and different doctors to figure out what was wrong with me. Finally, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I was ill for many years and it wasn’t until I was 29 years old that I was rushed in for emergency ileostomy surgery.
What was your biggest fear?
I was newly engaged and worried about how I would feel and look afterwards and wondered if my fiancé would still want me.
Was there something you were worried you would not be able to do after your ostomy surgery?
I was afraid I was not going to have a “normal” life and be able to have children.
Did those fears become a reality or were you surprised you could actually do what you were worried you couldn’t?
Those fears never became a reality because I had a future hubby that said he would love me just the way I am. He loved me for me. In fact, our wedding song, which he selected, was by Billy Joel and the lyrics say, “I love you just the way you are.” Three years after we married I was able to get pregnant and had a son who is now 30 years old. And three years later I had a daughter who is now 27. Both of my children are healthy and happy.
How has your ostomy changed you?
For the better. I appreciate life and all I can do and never let anything stop me.
What helped you most during your recovery?
My husband’s caring words and actions. My parents ongoing quest to find out what could be done to help me heal and the UOAA’s great support systems, one of which included a “visiting” program where I met other ostomates who shared their stories and taught me how to live successfully with my ostomy.
Did something help prepare you for your operation? If so, what was it?
My doctors were enormously helpful at the time and my Mom did a tremendous amount of research and shared her findings with me.
What do you wish someone had told you before your ostomy operation?
That I would have the life I have today — being well almost 100% of the time. That I would lead a normal life and that the ostomy would become a part of me that I would truly love as much as the rest of my body.
Was there a specific WOC Nurse or a doctor who helped you that you’d like to thank?
Dr. Philip Moskowitz and Dr. Arnold Koopersmith, South Nassau Community Hospital, Oceanside, New York.