stoma ileostomy bag woman junk food ulcerative colitis crowns ibd

Me and IBD

I was asked to write a little bit about my IBD story for Me and IBD, the youth site for Crohns and Colitis UK and was thrilled to do so.  You can take a peek at the site here.

me and ibd crohns and colitis uk sam cleasby womens story of life with ibd

You can read my post below.

My name is Sam Cleasby and I run blog So Bad Ass, Im a writer, public speaker and cheerleader for those suffering from chronic illness.

So Bad Ass came into being as a website and blog about Inflammatory Bowel Disease and specifically my journey with Ulcerative Colitis and living with a stoma.  Over the past year it has become so much more than that and I have been inspired to talk more about self esteem, body image and loving yourself.

In 2003 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.  I had never heard of this before and so went off to google and what I found seemed to be a horror story, all the talk of ulcers and bleeding, surgery and bags! I was 22, engaged to be married and had two children.  I felt like my life was over.

sam cleasby sheffield ulcerative colitis IBD stoma

What followed were years of flare ups and remissions, never knowing when a flare up is coming or when it will end.

In May 2013 I started with a flare up, after trying to control it with drugs for months I was eventually admitted to hospital for a course of IV high dose steroids.  I was passing a lot of blood and was very poorly.  After 6 days of intensive IV steroid therapy along with a whole host of other drugs, the decision was made that surgery was the best option for me.

On 3rd September 2013 I had a sub total colectomy and end ileostomy.  I now have no large bowel and live with a stoma in my stomach, I wear a bag to collect all my waste and my life has changed forever!

During my treatment I blogged my heart out, it has helped me to deal with the changes in my life and feels good to talk honestly about my illness, treatment and life.  I blog in the hope of making poo no longer a taboo…

I hope that reading my blog helps people to deal with their own situation.  I want to let other IBDers know that just because you have a bad ass, it doesn’t stop you from being badass…

The blog now gets thousands of views every week, I receive so many emails and messages of support and encouragement as well as a lot asking for help and support themselves.  I am so proud to have used my illness and surgery to spread the word and raise awareness of Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis.  I use my ileostomy and stoma to show images to the world to rid the fear of the bag!  I show my audience that having a chronic illness is just one small part of who I am, and that if they just open their minds and look a little deeper, this ileostomy bag does not define me.

stoma ileostomy bag woman

I spoke at International Women’s Day this year about Ulcerative Colitis, living with a stoma, body image, self esteem and positivity.  I am also developing a workshop for children and young adults to learn about loving their own bodies no matter what they face in life and have more public speaking lined up for this year.

The coming year is one of more surgery (Im going to cease to be an ostomate and become a pouchie!!!) building the blog, raising awareness and generally shouting as much as I can about Ulcerative Colitis, Crohns, stomas and pouches and I run a photography company called The Picture Foundry.

I am also renewing my wedding vows at the end of this year after ten years of marriage with a big ceremony which Im terrified about!! I am using the wedding as a way to raise money for Crohns and Colitis UK though, we are asking our guests to make a donation in lieu of gifts so this year is a busy one.

I didn’t ask for this illness or this life, but I will make the most of every second of it.  If I can raise awareness of the disease, it makes it worth while.  My surgery, illness and stoma can make a difference and so every day I remind myself that I am so bad ass.

Love Sam x

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