Erika H

Life with an Ostomy

by Kristin Goddard | Oct 03, 2018
Welcome Back Sophia!

We’re excited to welcome Sophia back to teaching classes again after a short medical time out. And we are pleased to share Sophia’s inspirational story about overcoming a medical “curveball” with a positive attitude inspired by her many Galter LifeCenter fitness class members.

 World Ostomy Day

From Sophia: 

Imagine waking up with a whole new way of life. For me this day was July 5, 2018. I had just undergone a six hour surgery connected to complications from years of living with Ulcerative Colitis. I had been diagnosed with UC in 2005 and in early 2017 my doctors found precancerous changes during a routine colonoscopy. I had made the decision this spring to have my entire large intestine removed as well as my rectum and have a procedure done known as a J-Pouch.

The J-Pouch procedure would be completed over the course of six months. The first surgery was the removal of the diseased organ as well as making my small intestine into a pouch that will serve as my new colon, this is the actual J-Pouch. However a procedure as invasive as this needs time to heal so for the moment I have an ileostomy.  This is an opening in my abdomen where my small intestine has been pulled through the abdominal wall, and waste is collected in a bag I wear outside of my body.

When I woke up from surgery one of the first things I did was look down at my bag and think, “well, this is going to be a very different experience.” Most people go their whole life without thinking about their “insides” but I was now faced with having to touch and handle my small intestine on a regular basis. I like to say, I’m living inside out.  

There was only one way for me to accept this challenge; head on. I have spent the last three months recovering from this surgery and getting used to my new normal until the second step. Living with an ostomy is not the end of life as you know it, in fact in some ways it has taught me more about myself than I ever knew. You learn to not sweat the small stuff, you learn about nutrition and you learn that the phrase ‘you are stronger than you think’ is actually true.

I plan to return to teaching my classes at Galter LifeCenter the week of October 1, proving that you can live an active life. As a fitness instructor for the past 11 years I have witnessed the strength of our members in my classes. There have been cancer patients, expectant moms, heart attack survivors, you name it and their strength is where I get much of mine. I have been honored to teach them for the last 11 years and I look forward to many more regardless of the curveballs life throws my way.

I hope that the members of Galter will join me in celebrating World Ostomy Day, Saturday, October 6.  This year’s theme will be “Speaking Out, Changes Lives”. The aim of World Ostomy Day is, “to improve the rehabilitation of ostomates worldwide by bringing to the attention of the general public and the global community the needs and aspirations of ostomates.” I chose to speak out about my ostomy because I do hope it helps to change the perspective people have about ostomies and those who live with them. I also hope to see you in one of my classes soon so we can celebrate all of our victories and let our inner warriors shine!

"I keep coming back because I feel better and have more energy when I exercise and it helps control my cholesterol." - Jacquie