By Ben Wheeler
MEET the inspiring nurse who suffered from such a severe undiagnosed stomach condition that she pleaded with doctors to allow her to have ostomy surgery and is now on a mission to break the stigma surrounding stoma bags.
Sofie Christensen, 27, from Lund, Sweden started to notice she was regularly struggling with an upset stomach in the summer of 2012 but never gave it too much thought.
The following year, Sofie’s problems continued to worsen, making tens of trips to the toilet a day and began to rapidly lose weight.
Despite several visits to her doctor Sofie’s issues were dismissed as being Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and she was prescribed a variety of different medications over the course of two years before demanding she be referred to an ostomy surgeon.
The surgeon agreed to operate on Sofie in what she describes as a ‘dream come true’ after being unable to work for seven months and sometimes struggling to even make it to the grocery store two minutes from her front door.
“For me it was better than any Christmas gift ever, it was like a dream come true,” said Sofie.
“I had forced my doctor to contact a surgeon after wanting an ostomy for almost two years, during which time I kept trying all sorts of different medicines.
“When I met the surgeon I was told that it might not cure my diarrhoea but if it could at least help me not spend my life living on the toilet then why not?
“I would finally get my life back and be able to leave my apartment without worrying about an accident or to check where the nearest toilet would be.”
Sofie then spoke about how her stomach problems began to develop and how doctors were left dumbfounded as to what was causing it.
“In the summer of 2012 I started to notice my stomach acting up from time to time but it never really bothered me too much,” she said.
“In 2013 I started to have daily struggles with diarrhoea, going to the toilet up to 20 times a day and I also lost about 15kg in weight.
“I got an appointment with the doctor but who said that it was just IBS and I was pretty much just told to deal with it.
“Even to this day the doctors are still trying to find out what kind of diagnosis I have, it’s still a mystery!
“The only thing they do know is that I have a super-fast bowel transit, but unfortunately they don’t know why, and they don’t know the cause of my chronic diarrhoea even after six years.”
Sofie went on to discuss how difficult things had got for her pre-surgery before detailing her experience of waking up from her ostomy operation and life since.
“By the time I had my surgery I hadn’t been able to work for over seven months, some days I would barely make it to the grocery store just two minutes away,” she said.
“I wasn’t eating well at all, only one small meal a day. If I had an appointment I would either cancel or starve myself to avoid then need of rushing to the toilet.
“I was so happy when I woke up from the surgery, two hours after I was sitting up on the bed and later that night was up and walking.
“Unfortunately, I got constipated and the pain was horrible but was given some laxatives and morphine and the stoma soon started working properly, the pain eased and I was finally back to being happy.
“I’ve noticed that people will look and stare if I’m wearing a top where the bag can be seen though, even in the work locker room people will look one extra time while I’m changing.”
Finally, Sofie spoke about why she has decided to be so public with her stoma bag before giving advice to anyone facing a similar situation.
“I want to break the stigma. There’s too many people who are ashamed of their pouch, worrying what people will think and say, I find it so wrong,” she said.
“Who cares? Your scars are battle scars and your bag might be your life saviour. I’m so confident about my bag and my stoma, I love to show it!
“For most people it’s not a choice to go through a surgery, it’s a must. But I think keeping in mind that it will being your life back or even save your life is one way to start preparing.
“I can assure you that you won’t miss running to the bathroom like an idiot or being unable to enjoy a meal out or having a sleep over at your friends.
“It’s a very individual thing for each person but I can tell you that if I could have had my surgery earlier I would. Never forget that you are a warrior and keep fighting.”
For more information see www.mediadrumworld.com