Hi! My name is Katie Cuozzo, I’m 31 years old, and I have a permanent ileostomy. When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and over the past 25 years I have had feeding tubes, liquid diets, infusions, injections, and every medication available. Two years ago, I started the worst flare of my life. It lasted about 15 months and, eventually, my only option was surgery.

In September of 2018, I had my first surgery for, what was supposed to be, a temporary ileostomy. A few months passed and, unfortunately, my symptoms returned. This required another surgery, which resulted in making my ileostomy permanent. My ileostomy gave me my life back and the ability to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend than I ever
was.

Prior to surgery, I rarely shared with anyone that I had Crohn’s. I didn’t want people to know I had a disease or wasn’t “normal,” plus, who wants to talk about pooping when you are trying to make friends in high school and college. I am happy to say that I now enjoy talking about my disease with anyone who wants to listen or who may be curious.

I also feel more comfortable sharing when I’m not feeling well or up for previously made plans. I still have some struggles while continuing to adjust, but overall, life is great and I would encourage anyone who is struggling with this decision to know that even with an ostomy, you can be happier than you’ve ever been in your entire life!!!

In the days leading up to my surgery in September, I was constantly Googling things, watching YouTube videos, and looking at Instagram posts to find out as much as I could about what to expect. I wanted to know how this was going to change my life. Was I still going to be able to go swimming, play soccer, work as a nurse, or have a baby?! One day, I came across Maggie’s YouTube video and instantly felt connected to her. I learned so much about living with an ostomy through her videos and by following her on Instagram, discovered the Patient Coaches program. I am so excited to be a Patient Coach and talk with other people who may be struggling with an ostomy or preparing to have one. Having an ostomy shouldn’t hold you back from following your dreams and creating even bigger ones!

My life is no longer inhibited by pain, flares, accidents, frantic bathroom breaks, tears, and worrying. Looking back, I wish I had gotten my ostomy sooner, but am now so happy to be a part of this supportive family.