Meet Natasha, AKA @iam.embraceostomy. We spoke to her to find out more about her stoma journey.
“My name is Natasha, I’m 39 years old and an Aquarius. I love walks in the parks, nature, and serial killer documentaries. I am passionate about raising awareness around Crohn’s Disease, Endometriosis and child abuse.
My life has been a traumatic journey from the very day I was born and that didn’t get any easier when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease 18 years ago in August 2004.
It first began after a trip to the cinema where I had nachos with Salsa and cheese. The next day I experienced diarrhoea, which continued for a week so a trip to the doctor was needed.
I was told it was just a virus and due to issues with my immune system, my body was probably just struggling to fight it off.
I went home and took their advice to rest and drink fluids, but weeks passed without any improvement. My mum was previously a nurse, so she was adamant something was seriously wrong. She advocated for me to receive further testing. I was booked in for a Colonoscopy and within 2 months I was diagnosed.
I’m forever grateful that I received a quicker diagnosed than most people with Crohn’s disease, I was due to start University in September 2004.
In the waiting period before my official diagnosis though, I lost a substantial amount of weight. I think somewhere around 2 stone. I hated this feeling. It was a time in my life when I hated how my body looked. I felt like people looking at me thought that I had an eating disorder. I was also malnourished, and this meant I had no energy so my whole summer before university was destroyed.
I was prescribed Pentasa (Mesalamine), but I personally feel this caused issues for me later on, as when I came off of it, my Crohn's got extremely bad. Fortunately, from 2004-2010 I experienced the longest remission of my life, but it didn’t last.
In 2010, my whole life changed and several years of flare ups and serious health issues followed.
I remember in 2010 having excessive bleeding from my back passage and I didn’t go to hospital for weeks. When I eventually went, I ended up passing out in the hospital ward toilets and waking up to lots of nurses trying to wake me up with oxygen. Still this day they have no idea what was happening with my Crohn’s and I was too inflamed for a Colonoscopy, so was put on a course of steroids.
A major turning point in my Crohn’s Journey was in October 2014 when I was rushed into hospital after an outpatient’s appointment. I was in hospital for 2 days when I was told my large bowel was so severely damaged it needed to be removed (subtotal colectomy with end ileostomy) and a mucous fistula created, resulting in a permanent stoma.
In 2016 I was rushed to the ER once again due to a blockage which led to vomiting and a miscarriage at 7 weeks pregnant.
Between 2015 and 2018, I had many flare ups which resulted in a resection of the small bowel and division of adhesions which was causing numerous blockages and excessive pain on the right side of my stoma. In the summer of 2017 while in hospital due to another flair I had a perforated stomach ulcer which bleed out on 2 occasions so had operations for rods to be put in place for my stomach to heal. This is when I was put on Infliximab every 8 weeks via IV Infusion.
Between 2018-2020 I had several issues with my stoma, I had to have a few minor procedures to open up my small bowel as it was too narrow. In August of 2020, I had to be admitted to hospital to have an intra-abdominal abscess drained, but after being discharged and put on a high dose of antibiotics, I was readmitted only weeks later.
In October I had a further surgery where my fistula was closed, and I had a small bowel resection. Sepsis from my stomach was drained as well as a cyst caused by endometriosis.
Since then, I have been put on double dose of infliximab, due to how aggressive my Crohn’s disease has been in the past. It seems to be working because I haven’t felt this good since my initial diagnosis.
I feel that I can finally start getting on with my life. People don’t realise how unpredictable Crohn's can be, and how badly it can impact your mental health. That is why I am passionate about raising awareness.”
We’re so pleased that Natasha shared her story with us. We cannot help but admire her incredible strength!