In our continuing series of patient stories, we would like to introduce you to Joshua L, diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at age 23.

Dear 11 health
My name is Joshua L. and Crohn’s Disease has welcomed me with open arms.

Here is my story. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s at the age of 23. I can remember the moment. I went to use the restroom and I was in pain like nothing I had ever felt before. The countless colonoscopies, 14 different medications tried, blood work nothing could get my symptoms under control. I can remember the utter panic of simply having to know where a restroom was no matter where I was and wondering whether I would make it in time. I thought this was how simply life was going to be and I had come to terms with that.

Now, 15 years later I began multiple surgeries in hopes of having a better quality of life. From 2011-2014 I’ve had my colon, rectum and rectal stump removed and have an ileostomy. During the last surgery when I was having my rectal stump removed I developed an infection at the surgical site. After the infection was cleaned out I had to heal naturally from the inside out. This left an 8 cm deep wound that had to be packed daily by a home health care nurse in order to heal.

A lot of life changing moments of weighing 100 lbs to now a healthy weight of 195 lbs. From the days of being moved to a rehabilitation center for three months after the colon and rectum were removed because I was too weak to go home. To the bouts of dehydration when learning to care for the stoma with hospital stays. Through all of this now my quality of is 1000x improved! Currently, no medication is taken and I can eat whatever I want.

I have a passion to help others who are going through similar experiences that I have gone through. I want to make a difference in other people’s lives. We need to erase the stigma and shame surrounding sometimes how people with ostomies feel. It’s ok to have one after all it saved my life!

Joshua L

It has become a true passion of mine to share my story. Not just to anyone that is willing to listen, but specifically to those that have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other patients. Whether it be clinicians, surgeons, nurses, medical students, physicians, or even other patients- my goal in sharing my journey is to help others.

It has become a true passion of mine to share my story.

Sharing about my struggle through multiple misdiagnosis.
Expressing the struggles I faced through multiple misdiagnosis.

Today, this special group of life changers were the nurses of Scripps Health. Nurses from multiple Scripps Hospital locations join together quarterly, to learn about how to better care for patients with various wounds and/or an ostomy. This course is put on by Scripps’ amazing team of Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN’s), and it is such a privilege to present alongside such a dedicated team. After the class reviews the “basics” of ostomy care: what is an ostomy, the different types of ostomies (ileostomy, urostomy, colostomy, etc.), ostomy pouches and pouching techniques, the do’s and don’ts, possible parastomal skin complications, and how to change/empty an ostomy pouch; the class is then introduced to me.

During my presentation I share significant moments in my life; from the start of my symptoms, my struggle through misdiagnoses, my final diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease, my 8-month hospital stay, and of course my ostomy surgery. I really emphasize what life is like with a stoma, the positive aspects of my life because of my ostomy surgery, how nurses can better support their ostomy patients, resources and tools to provide to their patients, as well as answering any questions they may have. I am always very honest and extremely open, even with the most intimate details of my life- because the reality is, having ostomy surgery is a very intimate thing. Because of this, not everyone likes to share; which is another reason why I do- so that hopefully, one day, less and less people living with an ostomy are silenced by the stigma.

-because the reality is, having ostomy surgery is a very intimate thing.

Sharing about my passion to raise awareness for other ostomy patients, like myself.
Sharing about my passion of raising awareness for ostomy patients.

After every one of these courses in which I have shared my story, I am encouraged not only by the WOCN’s who arrange the class, but also by the nurses attending. “It is a breath of fresh air to hear from a patient”, one nurse told me. Providing insight into positive patient perspective, allows nurses’ perspective and approach towards ostomy patients to be changed as well. It is an incredible opportunity to influence and encourage these nurses, and to remind them to approach ostomy patients with a little more compassion and patience. But most of all, it is motivating to continue to raise awareness on behalf of ostomy patients, to promote life for the better because of ostomy surgery, and continue my passion of sharing my story in the effort to change lives.

Providing insight into positive patient perspective, allows nurses’ perspective and approach towards ostomy patients to be changed as well.

Being an ostomy patient can be a tough daily challenge. Michael should know he had an ileostomy following his bowel transplant. However having an ostomy creates a unique bond between patients. The United Ostomy Association of America (UOAA) plays a key role in bringing patients and doctors together. Their annual conference, held this year in Jacksonville Florida, is the largest gathering of ostomy patients in the world and makes the ideal venue to launch the Ostom-i.

We will be on stand 203 with products for sale and demonstration. It will be interesting to see the reaction from international patients having done most of our initial patient trials in the UK.

We look forward to meeting patients and other attendees and transforming their lives with our device that will improve the lives of ostomy patients on a daily basis.