I’d like to start by telling you that you are important. No matter what your role in life is; a mother, sister, husband, caregiver, friend, or coworker, you are important. For YOU, the patient, the one going through this disease or this life changing situation; you have support. If you don’t see it now, if you don’t see those around you searching for ways to be there for you and to tell you everything is okay, please think about it now. You are not alone. I’m telling you this because I thought I was alone. When I woke up in that bed after my surgery; a female teen with a bag on my stomach, I thought I would never be the same. Who would ever accept someone with a bag, someone who wasn’t the same as other girls, someone like me? I want to tell you now, give people more credit, they may just maybe surprise you. YOU are beautiful in every single way. YOU WILL get through this and make it out on top. I promise.


My story from here has a bunch of ups and downs. I’d like to start with some positives. Some things that changed after my surgery for the good.

After making it home from the hospital and getting situated at college for my second year I was ready to take on my classes and my new experiences waiting to happen. This year I moved into the sorority house. I am a Delta Zeta and at the time there were 13 girls living in the house. Sounds crazy right? I loved it! There was always someone there to hang out with, someone to do homework with or watch a movie on our down time. I would walk to school and instead of coming home to my room to just lay down alone, I stayed on campus and went to events with friends. I was happy.

My classes were great. I switched from a theater major to a film major because that was more my forté. What I really needed was to find a place that I fit in, but all along I did fit in. I always had friends and support, but it was a matter of letting them into my life. I tend to push people away when I get scared and afraid of losing them. So, there I was, a second year into college, a sorority girl living in the house, and I was finally going out with friends.

Then I relapsed. One night I woke up in the middle of the night tossing and turning in pain. I believe I was the only one home in my room so that was a bit better because no one knew I had a bag. As the pain got worse it turned into screaming. My stoma had prolapsed from my body. It had completely fallen out and there was nothing I could do to fix it. I called my mom crying and told her we needed to get to Cedars immediately. I had to have my bag off the entire way and if you have a stoma, you know that is not an easy thing to do. I remember getting into the room and everything was just so sudden. No one was speaking to each other. The nurses were rushing in, then other help, then my surgeon. In that confusion I wasn’t given any pain meds. They put salt on my stoma because that was a way that could help shrink it, but it was not successful. Then Dr. Fleshner came in suddenly and tried pushing it back in. Yes pushing it with his hands with force. Remember I told you they had forgotten to give me my pain medication? So yes, there I was lying in a bed having my stoma pushed on with no meds. I would say this was the worst feeling I’ve had awake. He realized after I was screaming “bloody murder” that I had not gotten anything for the pain. He was not happy. Minutes later I was asleep and Fleshner did a reduction and revision to my stoma.

The surgery was successful, and I was out after three days. This was in mid-November of 2013. I returned to my house and returned to school. I was put down and angry once again. Why did things keep happening to me? Three surgeries in four months. I hoped I was finally done.

Things in life don’t always happen the way they’re planned, the way you want them to. I’m still always told till this day, “everything happens for a reason.” What twisted reason would this be in my case? Maybe it was bad luck, or maybe it was something to make me stronger as a person. Or maybe this happened so I could live to tell my story and help other people just like me. Whatever the reason I’m thankful for my life, my family and loved ones, my friends, and my new job at 11 Health. I wouldn’t be the same person without any of these amazing people.

Kristen 1

-Kristen Furey

Patient Champion

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