Nineteen-year-old Aimee Rouski of Liverpool, United Kingdom, is likely more self-aware than many teenagers, but then, she’s had to be. At 15, Rouski had such severe Crohn’s disease that medical intervention was yielding no results. As a result, Rouski went through an ileostomy, a procedure, according to the Daily Mail, where she had her large intestine, colon, anus and rectum removed and part of her small intestine was diverted to an opening and connected to an ileostomy bag.
— I AM THAT GIRL (@iamthatgirl) June 2, 2016
Prior to the surgery, Rouski was dealing with severe pain and several open wounds. During the ileostomy, Rouski’s thigh muscles were also used for plastic surgery on her wounds, according to Cosmopolitan. Rouski said that in spite of what could have been devastating surgeries for a teenager, she prefers to have a more positive outlook when it comes to unseen illnesses like hers.
“I’ve always been okay with the stuff that has happened to me,” she said, “but some people have real difficulties accepting these things.”
According to Metro, Rouski said that the ileostomy bag at first made no difference to her personality, but after she made her Facebook post about a week ago, she feels far more confident than she had previously.
“I’ve never really been a very confident person so the bag made no difference initially, but I actually feel much more confident in myself now after doing my post,” she said.
Aimee Rouski is also far from the only person to suffer from an unseen illness like Crohn’s. According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada, approximately five million people worldwide are affected with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, and these and other inflammatory bowel diseases like them are still relatively closeted conditions about which little is known publicly.
Unfortunately, inflammatory bowel diseases are almost as prevalent as type 1 diabetes and epilepsy. In addition, it affects more people than multiple sclerosis or HIV, yet there is very little known about the conditions. There are, however, a variety of therapies available, and surgery may not necessarily be the answer. Whether it’s immunomodulators, which alters how a body deals with an inflammatory response, or steroids, there are possibilities that may be open to the patient dealing with an inflammatory condition like Crohn’s.
In Rouski’s case, though, none of the conventional medical therapies were working, and she said that surgery was the only option left for her. She had been diagnosed with Crohn’s at age 11 after dealing with constant cramps, anal fissures, and loss of appetite, among other symptoms. Having a permanent ileostomy did not remove all symptoms of Crohn’s, and Rouski said that she still gets fatigued and still experiences pain associated with Crohn’s. In fact, Rouski is due to have a feeding tube in order to deal with a flare-up of her Crohn’s.
In spite of all of the health challenges she continues to face, Rouski said that she has always had a good attitude about having an ileostomy bag, also known as a stoma bag.
“Having the bag never bothered me much as I knew it would make me better, and the people I’m close to have always been great about it,” she said. “I love having a stoma now. It’s improved my quality of life and almost everyone I know has seen it so I’m not at all shy about it anymore.”
According to Crohn’s and Colitis UK, every 30 minutes someone is diagnosed with either Crohn’s or colitis and both are conditions that can be life-threatening. Rouski said that during her ileostomy, she lost a lot of blood, and her parents were told to prepare for the worst.
— David Morin (@davehangout) June 3, 2016
Rouski says now, though, in spite of a few negative comments, she is grateful for the responses she’s received about her now-viral Facebook post.
“I’ve had a lot of messages from people telling me that I’ve educated them, inspired them, given them more confidence, and helped them to accept themselves a little more which is wonderful to hear,” Rouski said.
[Image via Tashatuvango/Shutterstock]