My name is Rachel Flint. I am a reporter, music-lover, blogger, workaholic, avid reader, and have a phobia of mini eggs.
Looking at me you would have no idea of what my life has been like for the past 14 years. But for the majority of my life I have suffered from a chronic, debilitating condition, which has left me unable to leave the house, in crippling pain, and at times, wishing I was dead.
Yes, I suffer from Ulcerative Colitis, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), the sister condition to Crohn’s (you will see many of my posts refer to the fact I have Crohn’s, it is only since my entire bowel has been removed that the surgeons have decided I actually have UC).
In May 2013 (25 years old) after years of battling against this all consuming illness, I finally ran out of options and was forced to have emergency surgery to have my bowel removed. It was something which terrified me. I had avoided the surgeons knife for as long as possible, mostly through fear of what life with an ostomy bag would do to me as a young woman.
It was a rocky road – with a few too many hiccups, infections and re-hospitalisations along the way – and a massive learning curve, but I have never looked back. I still had problems, as my rectal stump filled with ulcerations and disease was still in place, and I had two ostomy bags – one for my fistula which spurted blood and the other for my ostomy – despite the on going problems it was the best I had felt in years.
So much so that in March 2014, almost exactly a year after my first operation, I made the decision to have my ostomy made permanent. I had the last of my bowel removed and me and my stoma, called Winnie, became lifelong best friends – not even death will now separate us!
I had thought this would be a difficult decision, but in the end having my sub total ileostomy gave me my life back. Before my first operation I had struggled to get through every day, often finding it hard to stay away from the toilet for more than half an hour, having an ostomy gave me some control over my life. Life is still by no means perfect, a lot of damage has been done by years of fatigue, malnourishment and weight loss, but compared to before I will have it any day.
My ostomy gave me my freedom, even if she is temperamental, at least I’m not screaming in a toilet somewhere – it’s what they call a no brainer I guess.
Anyway, this blog is a candid, no holds barred diary of my life with my stoma, and the adventures we have now that she has given me my freedom.
I wanted to show the world that having an ostomy is not the end of the world (like I thought) but is just the beginning. And even more importantly I wanted to break the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding IBD and ostomy bags – they are not disgusting, we are not unclean, and we can still be damn hot despite not having a bowel – in fact I’m sure mine made me hotter.
So just four weeks after my first operation I started this blog and the challenge clock started to tick. I have five years to complete 101 challenges (well there are really a lot more as I have the Visit England ones), some are funny, some are scary, some are weird, and some are downright impossible in the amount of time I have.
I hope you all enjoy watching as me and Winnie stumble through this journey. There have already been a lot of mistakes along the way, and a lot of lessons have been learned. I hope that this raises a smile in dark hours, and brings hope and comfort. If just one person reads this and gets some help from it, or better understanding of this illness, it will have all been worthwhile.
And yes, you have seen me on TV.