Hello patients, family, spouses, researchers, friends, and anyone interested. I’m going to be honest while telling you my story. Life is HARD with an Ostomy. It’s really the way you decide to live your life and who you decide to share your struggles and accomplishments with. I’m not going to tell you the RIGHT way to handle a disease, or tell you it’s easy having an Ostomy, but how I personally do it. Maybe just maybe this can help you. I very much hope so!
My name is Kristen Furey and I have Crohn’s disease and an ileostomy. I have not always been the one to share this with pretty much anyone, but starting now I will change that. I grew up in a small town called Galt in Northern California. I was active in sports and theater and one day on the soccer field I slowed down. I was 12 years old. Months later I learned I had a stomach disorder. They first diagnosed me with a disease called Celiac. This meant I had to go on a wheat free diet. How fun does that sound? About a year later they told me they got it wrong. Finally I found a doctor that made the Crohn’s Disease diagnosis. Things went downhill from there.
I’m going to fast forward a bit to when I was 18 years old getting ready to start my first year in college. At this point I was so sick you could tell from just looking at me. No way would I let that keep me from going to college and one day living my dream in theatre.
So here I am. This is actually one of the few pictures I have from my first year in college. Well actually I got this off my moms Facebook. I couldn’t keep those pictures. They upset me every time I looked at them and thought of what I went through. But now, as I’m writing this and thinking about what I DID go through. I see it as a huge success. I have gained 50 pounds and made some progress that I should be proud of, right?
One year later I left my house headed to Cedars Sinai, a hospital I never heard about. I had an appointment with a doctor my uncle heard about from a friend and we were desperate to find anyone that could help. I was on no medication and had no medical attention for the past few months, if not a year. I vaguely remember that day. That oh so life changing day I had. I met Dr. Dubinsky and after she took one look at me she sternly told me, “You are not leaving here until you get surgery.” My heart stopped a little and my stomach was in knots. I had no idea what to expect but I did know that I had to listen to this woman I had just met and let her save my life. After establishing that Dr. Fleshner would be my surgeon I was admitted into the hospital.
Without going into too much detail I was firstly given a PICC line. That was my favorite part! Okay..I’m joking. But this gave me a ton of nutrition I needed in the meantime. Fleshner came in (I always call him by his last name) and did a quick consult and the decision was made. I had a diverting loop ileostomy done on July of 2013 and it went successful. I woke up the next day in that bed in pain and scared holding my moms hand. She was and is the most important person in my life. She was there for me no matter what, and I knew we would get through this together. Ten days later I was released to go home.
So there you have it. This is the beginning to my story. There’s so much more to share, so keep reading and I will add on every week. Until then, keep smiling…it always helps me no matter what.