My name is Khloe Adoye, I’m 25 and live with my boyfriend and 2 cats in Surrey. I have Crohn’s Disease, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and live with a permanent ileostomy. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s when I was 17, after attempting many medications and having some more serious symptoms and inflammation, I was given a stoma at 21. My quality of life before surgery had become pretty poor and I was barely leaving my bathroom.
When I first saw my ileostomy after surgery, I was really alarmed by how it looked and was so worried I wouldn’t be able to manage it. I did cry a lot and felt almost guilty as everyone else I had seen with stomas was so beautiful to me, but when it was myself I felt really ugly and self-conscious. I wish I had realised sooner how little the bag would change my life, and that nobody would view me any differently than before. In all honesty, my main worry was that nobody would find me attractive, and even though that may seem shallow it was a huge knock to my confidence as a young woman. I wished all the time that I could just be ‘normal’ like everyone else. Mentally, I wasn’t sure I would be strong enough to deal with anything else on top of the usual stresses of my life.
When I connected more with people in the community, it really changed my whole perspective of ‘normal’ and I no longer felt so lonely in my feelings. In time, the swelling goes down, the stoma becomes smaller and more manageable as do the bag changes and the routine of daily life. Now my stoma feels so mundane to me, I truly rarely even notice it’s there, and neither does my boyfriend or anyone else in my life! Now it feels funny that I was so anxious about being considered attractive when my boyfriend is so loving and always lets me know how beautiful I am.
If I could talk to myself before being diagnosed with Crohn’s, I would tell myself that it’s ok to cancel plans/adapt plans to suit your health. I made myself feel extremely guilty for cancelling on friends when I did not feel well, and I would tell myself now that it was never me that was unreliable, it was my health that was unreliable! I would also tell myself that mental health is just as important as physical health, and that taking the time to make myself feel good is always worth it!
I would tell anyone facing stoma surgery that in truth, you will face physical and mental challenges, but to always remember that you are still yourself with a stoma, and that this is only one aspect of your life. You will have so many amazing experiences in your life, regardless of your stoma, and you will still achieve everything you had hoped to achieve! If you are mentally struggling please consider talking to others in the community (whether that be on instagram or any other platform if you don’t know anyone in person) as it will really help you to realise that you aren’t alone in your experiences.