Brigette’s Story

From Trauma to Acceptance

I was first diagnosed with Familial Polyposis in October 1980, aged 13.  I had my first operation three weeks later, in which a small section of my large bowel and one large polyp were removed.

My recovery was quick and I enjoyed three years with no major illness of any kind.  My bubble popped in October 1983 when I started to haemorrhage once again.   After weeks of fairly extensive tests, it was decided that my large bowel should be completely removed, which it was in 1984.

The word ileostomy was never mentioned at this stage, I was going to have a pull through in which they join the small bowel to the rectum.  This sounded okay at the time but it turned out to be a disaster.  I had limited control at night and spent most of my days on the toilet.  I also had to follow a very strict lactose -free diet (no dairy products) which resulted in a drastic weight loss and I had to spend several months in hospital trying, to regain some weight.

In October 1985, I developed an abscess and was admitted to hospital.  Various treatments failed and about five weeks later it became septic.  It was decided that a temporary ileostomy was my only option and surgery was performed in December 1985.

I found the ileostomy quite hard to cope with at first and it took a couple of weeks before I would even look at it.  After a few hiccups with appliances were sorted out, I was now able to sleep through the night and eat a normal diet.  I gained weight very quickly and began to think this stoma (which I named on advice from staff) was not going to be so bad after all.  George and I get along quite well now!

Reprinted from the "Thoughts of YOU" membership folder.  Most stories were written from the early to mid 1990s.

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