Raise Awareness, Save Lives

Nathan October Image

Hello everyone!

In this blog post, I wanted to talk to you about awareness of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC). Awareness is growing all the time thanks to the internet and people coming forward with their stories. Something I am very grateful for is SecuriCare’s blog because it allows ostomates to share their stories and raise awareness about things that other people could be struggling with and thus, in turn – makes us bloggers feel better, knowing that we could be helping someone!

Allow me to take you back to 2008, when I had my emergency stoma surgery...

I remember laying in that hospital bed and being told my diagnosis and what was going to happen to me. It was like the doctors were speaking a different language. I had never heard of Crohn’s or UC. I definitely had never heard of an ileostomy or a stoma. It was completely foreign to me and this made the whole thing a lot scarier than it should have been!

Obviously, it’s surgery and it’s going to be scary, but if the awareness was there I would have understood what was happening to me so much more and probably would have come to terms with it quicker. However, hindsight is a wonderful thing!  Maybe I was a naïve 17-year-old who thought he was untouchable, but I never thought this would happen to me!

Fast forward 12 years to 2020 and I have fully accepted who I am today and what my story is.

I feel confident enough now to share my story and raise awareness of the illness and the struggles I have experienced. Knowing that I’m helping people come to terms with having an ileostomy by sharing my blogs and lifestyle online (via various social platforms like Instagram and YouTube) makes me feel like I am achieving something!

In 2020, it certainly seems like a lot more people have issues with their bowels. I don’t know if it is becoming more common to have issues, or if it is just because the subject isn’t quite as taboo anymore.

We are more open with sharing our problems, which helps people to feel less alone.

You have people in the press talking about Crohn’s, UC, and other IBD issues. You have celebrities speaking out and there are communities online. It’s a lot easier to get information now which is fantastic! Another thing I really love is that Amazon pays a donation to your selected charity for every purchase you make through their Smile program. Crohn’s and Colitis UK is one of the charities on the list. It’s so nice to see big brands supporting something that I once thought was so tiny – it’s no longer a secret!

It's not just about raising awareness of the illness, but also raising awareness of how to live with it. I absolutely love seeing people on Instagram achieving things with their bag, going about their lives and not letting anything hold them back. It gives me hope and I’ve been dealing with this for 12 years. Newer ostomates will definitely benefit from seeing all this online, being shown that anything is possible, regardless of having a bag!

The more we talk about it, the more we learn not to judge.

Crohn’s and UC are often thought of  as invisible illnesses – so, to talk about them makes them a lot more real to people that don’t have to live with them. We all judge, it’s part of human nature – but my experience has certainly opened my eyes to the fact that we never really know what someone else is going through.

We definitely need to keep talking about IBD and not shy away from talking about poo. If you have blood in your stools, if you have stomach pains that last longer than a normal tummy bug – get to the doctors and get checked out! Don’t wait like I did! I will certainly be keeping you all updated with what goes on in my life through the blog and my social channels. I will continue to fight and do my very best.   

An ileostomy is a part of me, but it does not define what I can and can’t do!

Keep going!

Nathan x

Do you feel you could do with more information about stomas? Head to our advice and support section for a detailed look at what to expect when it comes to stoma surgery and answers to some frequently asked questions about life with a stoma.

by Nathan Wheeler

Nathan Wheeler

About the author

Hello - I'm Nathan Wheeler! I'm a YouTuber and I've had an ileostomy since 2007 when I was just 17, so I have a pretty good idea about how to deal with the struggles of a stoma! I want to share my experiences with you and bring a light-hearted approach to all the questions that no one wants to ask! You can follow me an Instagram and YouTube.

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