Life With Crohn's Disease

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My name is Orla, I'm 26 from a small village in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland & I suffer from a lifelong condition called Crohn's disease, one of the main types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). There are many hundreds of thousands people suffering from IBD, with no known cure at present.

Life Changing Surgery

I was diagnosed with Crohn's back in 2009 just as I was starting university, where I was going to studying Psychology. My condition progressively got worse, after trying every type of medication & alternative therapy possible I required emergency life-changing surgery to remove my large bowel & have an ileostomy formed. At the age of 20 it was a huge shock, both mentally & physically. During this time, I required blood transfusions both before & after my surgery as I was extremely ill. Due to ill health I also developed pneumonia & my right collapsed lung, causing me to require chest drains to be fitted all my down my right side which were unfortunately unsuccessful. As a result, I required two consecutive lung surgeries to re-inflate my right lung. My recovery was a long & gradual process, but with the help & support of my loved one's I returned to university a few months later to restart my final year. I graduated in July 2012 with a 2;1 in Psychology, & went onto complete a Masters in Health Psychology, despite having another major surgery in-between to remove the remaining part of my large bowel & make my ileostomy permanent. 6months after my final surgery, despite ongoing wound issues I began to train to take part in the Belfast Marathon Relay, running for a charity that I am a founder of called Let's talk Crohn's & Colitis NI. I also began pole exercise classes with my friend, doubtful that I would have the strength or ability to do much due to my ileostomy, scars, & total lack of muscle due to ill health. However, I have proved myself & many others wrong & exactly 2years on from my last surgery I am feeling healthier & fitter than I have ever done. My biggest journey to date has been moving to Australia to work & travel for a year. I have settled in well over the past six months, living in Bondi Beach where everyone looks so perfect all the time can be tough especially feeling so body conscious with my scars & stoma. But I’m getting there & learning to love life & embrace it despite my flaws. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.

You can check out my Instagram to keep up to date with my Travels, Pole, Running, & all things related. You can also follow my journey with Crohn’s Disease, find out more & support the work that my charity does here.