My name is Catriona Smith and I am 48 years young.
I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease when I was 17 years old; I remember it being such a relief when I was told what was wrong with me, I had been so unwell for so long, test after test, no-one knowing what was wrong with me. Little did I expect the roller coaster ride that the disease would take me on for the next 12 years.
I had many flare ups of Crohns during that time, long periods in hospital while they stabilised the symptoms, I was on handfuls of medication everyday and had to have multiple operations. Not how I envisaged spending my 20’s!! I had my last major operation in 1998 and it resulted in subtotal colectomy, ileosigmoid anastomosis and loop ileostomy which in short means I have to wear an ileostomy bag on my tummy.
The ileostomy was always meant to be temporary and in 1999 I did go under anaesthetic to have it reversed. However I was told that I needed reconstructive surgery to the fistulas that I also suffered with before they could do this operation. As we know there are no guarantees with this kind of thing; my quality of life had taken such a positive turn, I had started a new job, I had a new boyfriend, I finally felt in control of my body for the first time in years so I told the Dr’s that I wasn’t prepared to have 2 more major operations. I think I knew deep down keeping my bag was the best option.
I have been fortunate enough to have had great health since that operation, no more flare ups of Crohns for 18 years. This is unheard of and I know I have been one of the very lucky ones. The only medication I am on is Loperimide, I have to take about 12 a day as one of the functions of the bowel I had removed was to absorb liquid from my food during digestion. I have to go into hospital every 2 years for an endoscopy which I have done under anaesthetic as I find the whole procedure rather traumatic.
It always surprises people when I say that I wouldn’t change anything I’ve been through with my health. Yes at times it’s been extremely tough, lonely, painful, exhausting and frightening but it has taught me so much, given me so many lessons and made me the person I am today. I hope that by sharing my story it may help someone else.