My name is Lauren, I am 27 years old, from Boston, Massachusetts, and I have a permanent ileostomy bag.

After about a seven-month journey of testing, prodding and poking, I was diagnosed with severe Crohn’s Disease. Since then, I’ve tried nearly every medication, diet, and biologic in the book. Unfortunately, I’ve failed almost every therapy. When I was 19, I took a medical leave from college and moved back home with my parents. I was in and out of the hospital during the summer of 2011 and found out I had a large abscess inside of my colon. Despite antibiotic treatment through a picc line, the abscess continued to grow and eventually caused me to have a total bowel obstruction. I was taken into emergency surgery one night and woke up with a permanent ileostomy bag.

It’s been almost eight years living with an ostomy and while I’ve undergone a few more surgeries during that time, I wouldn’t wish to have reversed any of that. I have my life back! I’m happy, I’m no longer anxious and I feel freed from days spent in the bathroom chained to a toilet seat. I can live my life to the fullest and have some of the most bad-ass scars to prove how I got to where I am today.

I found out about the 11 Health Patient Coach program through Instagram and was thrilled to learn of a program that could help newly diagnosed patients undergoing surgery have someone to confide in. I am here to help others and to share my experiences as they go through similar challenges.

To all new ostomates in the world; know that you’re not alone in this and you will persevere through some of the hardest and most challenging times in your life. We as Patient Coaches are here to help guide you and we can’t wait to meet you all!