In January of 2015, Hattie Gladwell was rushed to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. Doctors diagnosed her with appendicitis. But, after having her appendix removed, her pain didn’t go away; it only got worse.
Days later, doctors discovered that Gladwell actually suffered from ulcerative colitis, a disease that severely affects the large intestine. She underwent surgery to remove her colon and now lives with a stoma and an ileostomy bag, both of which help remove stool from her body.
The 19-year-old from England is using her difficult experience to inspire and help others in the same predicament — more than 500,000 people in America alone have a stoma. Gladwell is openly chronicling her disease and recovery on her blog, More Than Your Bag, while also posting photos of herself showing the stoma and ileostomy bag.
“As you can imagine, it broke my heart. It scared me. It made me feel abnormal. I can no longer go to the toilet like a normal person, I can’t eat like a normal person,” she recalls feeling. “How will I ever look at my body with confidence again?”
Additionally, she writes about slowly regaining her confidence and even thanks the ileostomy bag for saving her life and for giving her a new perception on life.
“It’s a shame that it took nearly losing my life to make me appreciate it, but let me tell you, I’ve never appreciated myself more. I’m finally looking further than my reflection. I’m digging deeper into finding what I’m passionate about, I’m searching for what makes me happy. I’m living in the moment, taking each day as it come,” she writes.
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