Hi, my name is Nathan, and I’m a new Patient Coach here with 11 Health! I’m thirty-one years old, and I currently live in the beautiful desert of southern Utah.

I found out about the Patient Coach Program through my good friend Alyssa. We met at the 2017 National UOAA conference, where I saw a booth for 11 Health. They gave me an awesome teddy bear who has an ostomy! Sadly, I didn’t get on board with them at the time. However, a couple months ago, Alyssa let me know how much she loves being a Patient Coach. Now, boom, here I am!

This opportunity is important to me for two main reasons. First, I am excited to help new patients in whatever way I can. Secondly, I am looking forward to being a part of strengthening this community. I’ve never really wanted to share my ostomy story before because there are lots of other things I would rather be known for. Since this is all in the name of helping others, I'm happy to share and do what I can to help.

My health journey has been an adventurous one. I needed an ileostomy when I was born because I had physical deformities. I’ve never had any of the illnesses that most people with ostomies live with. I like to say that I have bad plumbing. My large intestine was not formed at all, and I was born with an imperforate anus, or what has come to be called a “Ken (or Barbie) butt.” I had four surgeries the first month of my life and was given an ileostomy for a year. After that, it was reversed to a J-Pouch until I was twenty-two years old. I never knew it was called a J-Pouch, and I only knew my surgeon had to completely construct a new colon for me. I was in pain and discomfort every day, but I just dealt with it. From twenty to twenty-two, I felt my body slowing down and simply drinking a few sips of water felt like eating three plates at a buffet. Little did I know that none of the muscles in my colon had been functioning. My body had been shutting down for year, and I should have died as a teenager! Between 2010 and 2011, I had three more surgeries that resulted in me getting a temporary, loop ileostomy and then a permanent end ileostomy.

Sincerely, I’ve never been better. Yes, I was very scared to have an ostomy and it came with some adjusting, adapting and awkward moments. It is so much better than the twenty-two years of being uncomfortable or in pain every day. If I could give one piece of advice to a new ostomate, it would be to learn how to listen to your body.  
I’m thrilled to be here and to help new ostomates and our community in general! I have many more tips, tricks, funny, miraculous, and inspirational stories. What would you like to hear more of?