I have been really lucky to shoot some inspirational women lately and I want to bring their stories to you.
Everyone has a story (whether they believe it or not) and I really believe in recording these stories for future generations (check out my post about what has inspired me in my photography journey )
Some of you may have followed Geoff’s story about Ulcerative Colitis and subsequent emergency surgery to remove his colon which resulted in a temporary ileostomy.
There has been a lot more publicity lately regarding ostomates, with photos of aspiring models and medal winning body builders hitting feel good sites like Huffington Post and Buzzfeed. Although there is much more awareness lately, there is still a certain stigma attached to having an ostomy. It’s important to remember that for some people an ostomy dramatically improves their quality of life and there is not a lot that you can’t do with an ostomy.
Still after seeing how such a major surgery affected Geoff and his self esteem, I reached out to Ostomy Toronto to offer complimentary photoshoots to some of their members.
This session was with Marisa.
Marisa began to feel unwell and was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in 2006, which was initially well managed and didn’t really affect her life too badly until her first pregnancy. Then over the course of 2008 through to 2010 her health declined and during her second pregnancy she became increasingly unwell. Her GI specialist was committed to try to make her IBD and Ulcerative Colitis (UC), as manageable as possible and in 2012 she was started on high doses of steroids and eventually biological agents Humira and Remicade. Eventually a sub-total colectomy surgery was suggested as an option.
Marisa decided that she didn’t want to impact her two daughters lives, due to a number of factors.She had previously enjoyed a fairly active and sporty lifestyle which she was no longer able to do, and due to the IBD and UC was unable to eat anything much more than oatmeal and potato chips.
Marisa’s two girls have coped really well with the surgery, they have been interested in the ostomy (with the help of an ostomy doll supplied by the stoma nurse and bling for the ostomy bag), and were eager to assist the homecare nurse on her visits to the house once Marisa was home from hospital.
Marisa felt that maybe she hadn’t realised how much of an impact that the ostomy surgery would have on her, and thought that she would feel really great considering how unwell she had been with IBD. Unfortunately post operatively she was unimpressed with the ostomy and under-estimated the impact it would have on the way it made her feel, her way of dressing and her self-perception. She gave herself a week post-surgery to feel bad, to come to terms with and to grieve the need of the ostomy. After working in consultation with the stoma appliance companies, Marisa was able to find products that she was happy with that had a lower profile under her normal style of dress which has also helped.
For Marisa, one of the big parts of living with IBD and UC was anti-social aspect of the disease and subsequent surgery, but she has now made a resolution to now be more open with others but also remain realistic about her experience.
Overall Marisa is glad that she underwent surgery, but there were obstacles that needed to be addressed and overcome both physically and mentally. Now that she has the ostomy and has adjusted to it, it feels a lot easier.
Marisa will be taking the next step in her journey and undergoing the first step in reconstructive surgery in 2015.
MUA Trisha Florentin
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