My personal journey as an ostomate began March 2017 before my sixty-fourth birthday. I had been diagnosed with severe diverticulosis about eight years before, and although I had several bouts that required antibiotic treatment and one hospitalization, I didn’t seem to be getting any worse. Or so I thought.

After my last diverticulitis “attack” in late fall of 2016, a CT scan revealed a fistula had developed in my large intestine. Follow up testing by my surgeon showed that I had a two-inch sigmoid stricture. My diet was restricted to mostly liquids and soft foods until my bowel resection in March. Four days after the initial surgery, I developed an anastomatic leak and was back in surgery for a Hartman’s Pouch and temporary end colostomy.

Seven months later, I had the reversal of the colostomy and was connected once again. However, in order to let the connection fully heal, my surgeon gave me a temporary loop ileostomy. Seven weeks later, I had that reversed, and I am almost three months post-surgery and feel better every day.

It’s been a whirlwind of a year and quite the learning process. I found the most helpful people throughout this experience were others experiencing the same thing. It was nice to talk to a nurse, but the most helpful and truly empathetic people were those that had what I had. They understood. That is why I decided to become a patient champion.

For me, the combination of having a sense of humor about my situation, a supportive husband who is my rock, and an exceptional, caring surgeon was the key to getting my life back.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes you just need someone to help you see it!