Inflammatory bowel disease

I’ve decided to keep my ostomy bag for the rest of my life – here’s why


Maybe I’ve always been sick. Maybe no one knew.

Ever since I was an infant, I’ve been on elimination diets. I couldn’t breastfeed, I had a hard time digesting different foods at different points in my development, and I always had a running battle with weeks-long episodes of diarrhea and constipation. What was fine yesterday may have forced me to be bedridden tomorrow.

When I was 13, things really began to go downhill. I would get tired from the littlest activities (I was also a cheerleader, Young Marine, and a gymnast at the time, so I just assumed it was too much on my plate). I quit all of my extracurricular activities except for marching band. I stopped eating dairy in high school, thinking it would help. I tried a vegetarian diet, a sugar free diet, gluten free… nothing helped. In fact, I felt worse. I saw a doctor who brushed it all off. He refused to do any testing and just said it was Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

I developed bulimia when I was 16. I thought if I could have strict control over what went into my body and when, it would help. My abdomen would swell for no reason and I would look 9 months pregnant, so I’d starve myself until it went away. Every time, I’d have uncontrollable diarrhea that would keep me housebound for a week. I wasn’t eating, but stuff was surely coming out!

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