Karishma: Learning to be proud of my ostomy

I was at a loss at what to do and felt like giving up

Karishma received compensation from Coloplast to provide this information. Each person’s situation is unique so your experience may not be the same.

I was diagnosed with Severe Ulcerative Colitis, I thought my life was over.

Receiving an autoimmune disease diagnosis when you’re 16 years old feels like a death sentence.

I remember thinking, “That’s it. Game over.”

It was 2016: the height of YouTube ‘get ready with me’ videos and the brilliance of Vine. I was still trying to figure out who I was as a person and things I liked, trying to make friends, and doing school. Dealing with a chronic illness was the absolute furthest thing from my mind.

Growing up, members of my immediate family had Crohn's and IBD symptoms, so when I was diagnosed with Severe Ulcerative Colitis, I thought my life was over.

Managing symptoms instead of living freely.

Instead of enjoying my teenage years doing things my friends and classmates would do, the disease progressed and became worse with time. Life slowly became more about managing symptoms and less about living on my own terms.

I was almost always nauseous. It seemed like anything and everything would trigger flare-ups. Stress, anxiety, food…even the weather.

I was rarely able to go out with my friends and I when I did leave the house, I was always paranoid about where the bathrooms would be.

I felt so alienated. So isolated. Was I being punished for something?

I barely even made it to prom after a particularly bad flare up, I literally drove there from the hospital where they trialed a new steroid for me. I looked like a walking skeleton during what was supposed to be a big milestone moment.

Getting ostomy surgery was the best choice I ever made.

In the summer of 2022, things took a turn for the worst. I got really, really sick and dropped 20 pounds in a week. I was living in the bathroom and couldn't keep any type of food or water down. I was terrified.

They rushed me to the hospital to have an emergency colonoscopy done and my doctor gave me the news that my entire colon was infected with Ulcerative Colitis.

The scope showed that all three parts of my colon were filled with ulcers, tears, and polyps. I was given a few options on how to proceed but nothing new; several new types of steroids, IV treatments, and some fancy expensive drugs that cost upwards of thousands of dollars per month and would wreak havoc on my entire body.

I was at a loss at what to do and felt like giving up.

But then, my gastroenterologist suggested something that I’d never heard of before. What if I had surgery to remove my entire large intestine?

I researched and the more I learned, the more I realized that ostomies are often very effective but also stigmatized. So, they’re not talked about as openly unless someone is in a last resort situation.

For 6 long years I suffered through life, and this whole time I could just remove the organ?

Sign me up!

I got my surgery on September 5th, 2022, and for the first time in 8 years, I wasn't nauseous. I wasn't sick. I wasn't cramping. I was just existing.

The recovery was tough and though I was excited for the future, I was still worried about what having an ostomy bag permanently would be like. Would it be noticeable? Would it smell? Is it see through? Will I be made fun of? How do I dress?

When my ostomy team put the Coloplast products in my hand for the first time and I saw what the bag actually looked like, I felt so relieved. It wasn't beige, or see-through. It wasn’t going to smell, and it wasn’t bulky at all.

My SenSura® Mio bag was modern, sleek, and conveniently happened to be my favourite shade of grey!

I’m currently using SenSura® Mio in deep convex bags, alongside the Brava® Protective Rings, Adhesive Remover Spray, as well as the Elastic Barrier Strips on occasion!

Getting ostomy surgery was the best choice I ever made, and I don’t know what I would’ve done without support from Coloplast. Their products have had a big impact on my recovery, new lifestyle, and they’ve been the best choice for my body and stoma.

I’ve heard people say that a part of the journey of growth and self-love is to become the person we ourselves needed the most in our most challenging and darkest moments. Now, I can say I finally understand what that means. I’m working towards becoming the me that my 16-year-old self desperately needed when she first got her diagnosis.

If 16-year-old me could see me now, I think she'd be happy to know that I’m proud of my ostomy, proud of who I am and the person I’m becoming. And I hope that I can be that person for others who find themselves in similar situations I was in.

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