Hi! My name is Laura, and I’m from Sydney, Australia. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease just after my 30th birthday. My life was put on hold as I struggled to do the normal, everyday things I had always taken for granted.
As anyone with an understanding of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) knows, it can be a daily battle to get out of bed, leave the house, and live a normal life. The symptoms take over and can be debilitating.
After 4 years of far more downs than ups (including trying lots of different medications, nightly enemas, side effects, diets, psychologists, fistulas, abscesses, flare after flare, and several stints in hospital), I eventually decided to go down the path of surgery. On the 24th of September 2013 I had a pan proctocolectomy with end ileostomy. It wasn’t an easy decision – knowing I would have a permanent stoma. Within weeks after recovering from surgery, I knew I had made the right decision. For the first time in a long time, I felt well. I felt like a new person!
Not long after surgery, we made another big decision ….. to travel the world! We spent 10 months travelling through South Africa, Europe and Asia (where my partner of 17 years and I got married)! Along the way, I decided this was my opportunity to share my story and to help bring IBD into the open.
I was inspired by other IBD campaigners, and I hope my story helps, encourages and inspires others too! Travelling and living with a stoma can be daunting, and whilst there certainly may be a few hiccups along the way, having a stoma has really given me my life back, and enabled me to fulfil some lifelong dreams that for a long time I feared may never be possible.