Hi, my name is Kelly Brynn! I was born and raised in Michigan and am now living in Austin, Texas with my husband Brian and our two little pups, Jack and Lucy. I received a temporary ileostomy in February of this year and had my total colectomy in September.

I have had gastroenterological issues for as long as I can remember, but things really took a turn in 2009 due to a combination of intestinal paralysis and severe pelvic floor dysfunction. By 2014, I was completely unable to digest on my own. I was seen by many different specialists in a few different states and nobody had an answer for me. A little over a year ago, I met a new doctor and we went back to square one. Over the course of the year we tried everything from pelvic floor physical therapy to an experimental nerve stimulator implant, but nothing worked. My doctor recommended a temporary loop ileostomy and I had that procedure done on February 20th. My ostomy has been the only success that I have felt in over ten years. It has been a long and drawn-out process, but I am so happy to finally feel like myself again.

The day that I scheduled my surgery, a friend suggested that I follow some ostomy accounts on Instagram. I was amazed at the number of ostomates out there that were so open to share their stories. I started following a handful of pages and that is where I ran across the Patient Coaches Program. I was so touched by their mission and the work that they do, I knew right away that I wanted to be a Patient Coach too.

I am absolutely thrilled to now be a Patient Coach! I feel that this amazing opportunity will give me so much satisfaction, as I have always loved being able to help people. I hope to use my personal experience to help support fellow ostomates and I hope to be a part of making their journey easier and less scary. After my surgery, I was lucky enough to find a support group online. Speaking to people that had been through the same situations as me was tremendously helpful in the normalization of my new life. Being able to ask any question and speak to them about their experiences was what really got me through.

Having an ostomy has given me my life back. For so many years I felt like my body controlled me and now I finally feel like I am in charge. Learning to live with an ostomy has its challenges, but overall, I have never felt better or been happier.

The best piece of advice that I would give to a new ostomate, or someone preparing for surgery, is to do your research and ask questions. There are so many resources out there and online communities that are filled with nothing but support and encouragement. Take it all day-by-day, try your very best to stay positive, and just know that as overwhelming as it all seems, it will get easier and become normal before you know it. This is the beginning of a new chapter and there are no limits to how incredible your life can be.