I’m Lewis, and I'm 24 years old. I'm a big golfer and a big football fan. I live on my own in West Berkshire. I’m a refrigeration engineer. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in July 2022 after experiencing bloody stools and severe stomach pains. After a couple of weeks of medication (infliximab) in hospital, I did not respond to the treatment. I wasn’t given any option but to have the surgery. Therefore needing my colon removed and a stoma was formed just 4 weeks after diagnosis.
The main reason I started my instagram was to talk to people with chronic illnesses and stomas, to help people similar to me and share experiences together. It’s made me feel so good knowing it’s helping others like me. I like to share awareness and my charity events for Crohn’s and Colitis UK. I’ve met so many amazing people on instagram.
When I was going through it all last summer, I would say the physical aspects were most challenging as I could not function for 2 months and was completely reliant on family caring for me. But now I’ve had the surgery, it’s more the mental side of having a stoma at a young age. I sometimes think “why me?” But having a stoma has saved my life. It’s made me such a strong person compared to what I was before. I have bad days here and there but it’s normal to feel that way. Through the process of documenting my stoma I would say, I’ve learnt to love it. I just think to myself without the stoma, where would I be now? My consultant recently told me that if I didn’t have surgery when I did, my bowel would have perforated. I just have accepted the stoma now and all the positives that come with it.
I have found being on the Crohn’s and Colitis UK forum on Facebook a massive help. Obviously creating my instagram @lewis_stoma_journey and connecting with so many sufferers has massively helped me. Talking really helps. I think that people could better educate themselves on life with a stoma by following more accounts on instagram like mine and the 1000s to see what really it is all about. When I got diagnosed I had never heard of UC or stoma bags! But now here we are.
To my younger self I would say: Do not worry about anything that you can’t control. Live life to the fullest as you never know what’s around the corner. As I learnt last year! Do not stress about the little things in life, there are many worse things and people a lot more worse off than you.
To any new ostomates I would say: Take each day as it comes. It’s okay not to be okay. Speaking about your feelings has massively helped me and I would definitely advise that. Document your journey on social media - especially instagram as there is a massive community on there.