I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at the age of 16, knowing that a stoma could be ahead of me in the future, I hated the thought. For an athlete to be told that, was just unimaginable, the illness itself put me into shut down mode then to be told 3 years later I would need surgery to have my colon removed was heart breaking. But I researched, talked to two amazing inspirational people and found out that I could continue with my sports and physical activities, it give me the motivation I needed.
So at 12 weeks once I got the all clear from my surgeon I decided I was going to get back into doing what I love as I had been out too long and will not let this wee extra that I have define me, as I was giving it for a reason. So started with my PT in my local area, 1-2-1 fitness, I know that PT are expensive, but with Brian Kealey I knew it had to be done.
Everything started great from the word go, as when I told him about my medical history it did not bother him, and I know telling people about having a stoma is a big deal, well it was for me then but now, well everyone knows now and if I can help people I will try my best. I trained twice a week with Brian and I played a contact sport which is physically demanding as you can get hit with a piece of ash, I proved to people’ yes I can play sports, if anything having a stoma makes you want to prove to people I can do anything that people without stomas can do. We are the exact same only we poo or pee a bit different.
I have taken part in the Belfast city Marathon 6 months after my operation and I played in county championship final. Now I am just taking it easy as I have recently had my rectum removed, so I’m back with my PT, walking and trying Zumba at the moment. Even though I have two left feet I enjoy the fun. Not every exercise that you do has to be competitive. In the room where I do PT I see a sign up in the mirror that keeps me going through the sessions and think ‘keep it going’!
The tips I have for exercise is:
• Get the all clear from your surgeon or stoma nurses• Start off gently by going walks, every time you do one walk a bit further• Get support underwear, there are different places you can get them from• Strengthen up your abdominal muscles gradually to prevent hernias• Keep hydrated, I would use dioralyte or Lucozade sport• LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, if you’re not up to it put the feet up!!• Last thing ENJOY IT XX