Choosing Ostomy Surgery

Before I got diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I had zero health issues throughout my life, except for high blood pressure. Fast forward to age 26 and I started experiencing a lot of blood in my stool with no idea why. I can be a stubborn person so I didn’t tell anyone what was happening; not even the people closest to me. A few months went by and my mother noticed blood in the toilet pretty consistently and asked me about it. I told her that it had been going on for months and that I didn’t know why.

We ended up going to our local gastroenterologist and they did tests and I got diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Obviously, I had no idea what it was but he said that I would need to change my diet and to watch what I eat. Fast forward a year or more and I had already been through two GIs and I was being sent to another. They said that I had a very severe case of ulcerative colitis. Meanwhile, around two years in I lost the ability to be able to hold my bowels in for longer than a few seconds. I was miserable, had lost a lot of weight, and also a lot of “friends”. This was also all happening during the COVID pandemic so I wasn’t able to see my doctors in person.

The final year before I got surgery I had lost 40-50 pounds, had been to the emergency department  countless times, as well as hospitalized 3-4 times. I ended up being super anemic and needed iron infusions as well as one blood infusion. That last year was the final straw. The summer of 2021 I ended up losing my bowels on myself 40+ times on my 20-minute drive home from work. I told my boss I couldn’t work anymore and that’s when I first heard about ostomies and started researching. I didn’t know what an ostomy bag was before then but after joining a subreddit on Reddit called r/Ostomy I started to see that an ostomy was the answer to my problem.

I went to my GI and told him that I’m done trying medicine, I’m done not being able to go out and experience life, I’m done with prednisone (which was wrecking my body), and  I’m done being physically, mentally, and spiritually drained. I was completely broken. He said that all he could do was refer me to a surgeon. I arrived at the surgeon’s office begging him for surgery and he said “I’ve never had a patient come into my office practically begging me for surgery, so yes we can do it.”

Getting an ostomy completely changed my life but I didn’t let it completely change me.

Two months later I was walking in for a total colectomy and a placement of a stoma. I was afraid but I knew I couldn’t keep living the way I was. So February 21 of 2022 I got Stoma Steve. It only took a few weeks to know that I made the right decision. I felt better immediately. Luckily, I had a lot of help between my spirituality, my support network, my family, the subreddit r/Ostomy, and the surgeon’s office. I couldn’t have done it alone.

I didn’t want to mention this because I didn’t want it to be a focal point of my story, but at the time of my surgery I had over 5+ years clean from ALL mood or mind-altering chemicals so I didn’t go home from the hospital with any medicine besides Tylenol. Honestly, the recovery wasn’t bad but only a short few months after I developed a prolapse of my stoma. It was a big one but it wasn’t affecting my daily life (besides the anxiety it caused me) so they opted to wait to fix it until I decided whether or not I wanted to keep the stoma forever or get a reversal.

I want to be able to share with people that just because I have something like an ostomy doesn’t mean I can’t do the things I love. Being a bright light in a horrible disease is a blessing for me.

I researched reversals and with the help of family decided that I was going to keep the ostomy bag. So on January 10th of 2023 I got my rectum and anus removed and they fixed my stoma prolapse. Again, the recovery wasn’t bad but this time the hospital stay was horrible. I ended up getting straight cathed three times, I had an NG tube placed because Stoma Steve wasn’t pushing food out and my drain was bothering me for the month I had it. Again, I can’t thank the subreddit r/Ostomy enough because they were who I vented to and talked to for help and coping strategies because no one in my life except them knew what I was going through.

My Ostomy bag and stoma has saved my life. This year has been one of the best years of my life. I explored nature, started exercising, running/walking 5ks, fishing more, cycling, and many other things. I’m a Patient Care Technician in the Behavioral Health Unit in my local hospital. I love being able to help people on a daily basis. Being able to fulfill my purpose; which is helping other people, brings me joy daily. That is why I want to share my story.

I did no know about UOAA until I became interested in wanting to share my story and researched how to get involved with advocacy and sharing about ostomies. I would love to do the Run for Resilience Ostomy 5K on World Ostomy Day this year and get more involved with the UOAA community.

Getting an ostomy completely changed my life but I didn’t let it completely change me. A lot of people don’t understand why I’m so positive and happy most of the time. It is because I have been through a lot in my short 30 years of life and I don’t want to let the bad things outweigh the good things. I want to be able to share with people that just because I have something like an ostomy doesn’t mean I can’t do the things I love. Being a bright light in a horrible disease is a blessing for me.

Thank you for reading!!

4 replies
  1. Sierria E
    Sierria E says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I hope that it brings to light not keeping this a secret and hope that life can change for the better. Your journey has been a tough one but I think all you’ve overcome is amazing!

    • Victor C
      Victor C says:

      Thank you Sierria! That’s what I want to do. Inspire other people so that they can get the help and support that they need!

  2. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    Thank you for sharing your story!! Especially being such a young handsome man that has to be hard but your spirit is great!!! I just love it!! I as well have a ostomy but I was more concerned with my daughter who is your age and recently diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and she struggles!! I don’t think she yet understands how serious this could be so
    I’m sharing your story!! Keep shining!! And smiling!

  3. Leonna Peaches Myles
    Leonna Peaches Myles says:

    Wow awesome story
    Thanks for sharing
    I have colostomy after diagnosis with colon cancer after having first colonoscopy was life changing but I’m grateful to be alive and cancer free since 2020


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