I first experienced IBD symptoms while I was studying for my HSC exams in 2009. My stubbornness and determination to succeed meant that I struggled quietly through bloody stools and stomach pains until I could no longer hide the daily painkillers and heat packs. After six long years of countless ups and downs, the conversation of creating an ileostomy became real and I began preparing for a surgery that would turn my life around. Thankfully, I had and have the unwavering support of my family who stayed by me during my hospital stays, brought me heat packs and peppermint tea, and helped me see the bright side of the inevitable “accidents” that sometimes occur living with IBD.
The support groups around me, though wonderful, were not a perfect fit as they were held during the day on weekdays when I worked, or catered to ostomates much older than myself. With this in mind, in November of 2018 I reached out to a small group of local ostomates I followed and had spoken to on Instagram and invited them to lunch in Bondi. We spent a glorious afternoon basking in the summer sun and bonded not only over our shared stoma experiences but as friends.
As I move into my eighth year as an Ostomate I can’t help but smile at how different my life is now compared to the constant battle to find a toilet bowl; and at all the hats I now wear that I wouldn’t have imagined before, including sitting on the Board of Directors of NSW Stoma and being a mum to my gorgeous little girl Evie.