At the age of 5, Lauren suffered severe tummy pains every so often and constipation. As Lauren grew up the pains and constipation also grew worse. By the age of 18 it went downhill for her with constant hospital admissions, countless blood tests, scans, laxatives, painkillers, many sleepless nights and lots of down moments. 11 surgeries and over 25 procedures later, Lauren was told she had Crohns Disease. A year later she was then diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s disease.
“I tried every laxative possible from Movicol, picolax, laxido, tablet form ones, enemas. And I even waited to try a new tablet which was waiting for funding called Prucalopride.”
Lauren has been on various anti sickness medications to help with vomiting and nausea, and is currently on an anti sickness medication called Cyclizine. She has tried so many painkiller medications and is currently on morphine patches and oramorph, taking 40 tablets a day. Lauren also suffers with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (also known as Fibromyalgia) and mental health conditions such as Depression, BPD, OCD, PTSD and Anxiety. After some time, Lauren was then diagnosed with PCOS which has caused her severe fertility problems (for more information on PCOS please click here.), Restless Leg Syndrome and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. She also has back problems which causes a bulging disk in her lower back causing Sciatica. After surgery she developed a bladder problem which requires her to self catheterise (for information on all types of catheters please click here) when required.
After years of suffering with Crohn’s Disease and trying many medications to control it, Lauren went through surgery to have an ileostomy bag fitted. “My stoma surgery was January 14th 2014 and life afterwards was extremely difficult for me, mentally and physically. I was so low recovering from my surgery with the week before having to have a minor op and then my stoma operation which is major. 5 days later I was rushed back in and I nearly died. I wouldn’t go out the house for a while and my stitches had split open and I was on antibiotics for 6 months.”
Despite being unwell and having a stoma bag that leaks from time to time and sore joints, Lauren works full time and finds that it can be extremely stressful with several invisible illnesses and using the loo, carrying supplies at her work station. Lauren has had terrible experiences when using disabled facilities and being refused access to toilets with her “can’t wait card”. “People can be judgmental and not understanding to my situation. And it takes a bad affect on my mental state at times too. My rock through it all has to be my partner Lee and my Dad even though he is poorly and lives in England as I now live in Belfast.”
Lauren’s message to everyone out there with a Chronic Illness or Stoma:
“It does get better I promise even if it seems like it won’t, it will! I couldn’t empty my bag or even change it alone.. I’m 5 years on living with my Ileostomy now and I’ve accepted it’s part of me! I’ve had a few negative times with my bag from online groups and certain individuals being nasty and saying I never had a bag but the best thing you can do for yourself is ignore them and block them then move forward! I try my best to get through those times. Keep smiling and forget those small minded and judgmental group of people.”