21-year-old’s sudden pain turned out to be life-changing illness

Inflammatory Bowel Disease discussed by doctor in 2015

Instead of going out and enjoying her 20s, Kirsty Heron, from Swinton, spent most of her time in bed, battling constant stomach pains and crying.

At the age of 21, she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which describes a chronic condition that triggers inflammation and ulcers on the inner lining of your large intestine.

Kirsty told the Manchester Evening News: “For a young girl like me to have her life put on hold by an illness was upsetting. 

“To be diagnosed with something you had never heard of before was scary.

“I was crying nearly every day because I thought I shouldn’t have to live my life like that at such a young age – waking up with no energy, not being able to eat or have fun.”

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The admin worker was at home when she was struck with sudden cramping pains, prompting her to use the loo.

Between the four bathroom walls, Kirsty noticed a large amount of blood in the toilet bowl, which led to the decision of her parents to take her to a hospital.

Kirsty said: “I had no other symptoms. It was a stinging pain, like when you have an ulcer in your mouth but it was in my stomach. 

“I was losing quite a lot of blood. It was quite scary.”

According to the NHS, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis include recurring diarrhoea, which may contain blood, mucus or pus, tummy pain and the urge to poo frequently.

In the hospital, the 21-year-old was then sent for a scan, which revealed that her bowl was inflamed and that she had ulcerative colitis.

The inflammatory condition can prove painful and even lead to severe complications.

Over the next three years, Kirsty was struggling with constant pain as her body rejected every single medication she was offered.

She added: “I was in constant pain and I constantly felt tired.

“I had no energy and I was scared of eating because every time I ate the stinging pain was horrendous. I was in and out of hospital because the flare-ups were so bad.

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“I couldn’t go out and enjoy myself without worrying whether I would need the toilet or whether I would make it to a toilet. I was so drained from it all.

“Being 24 years of age, I felt like I should have been going out with my friends and family. I used to go to the gym a lot too – then nothing.”

The woman revealed she would need the toilet between 15 to 20 times a day.

In February, she had to go back to hospital after a bad flare-up and she was given the option of a stoma bag.

She said: “I met with the surgeons to discuss my options and at this point I was more than happy to have the surgery.

“I just wanted my life back. But I thought, ‘How am I going to wear my everyday clothes?’ My anxiety was through the roof. I thought people were going to know I had a stoma.”

The 24-year-old was also offered a second bag, called a mucous fistula, which helps divert mucus out of her body.

Fortunately, the operation ended up being the “best thing” she has ever done and gave Kirsty her life back.

The 24-year-old added: “I’ve been doing everything. I’m so happy to have my life back how it was three years ago before I got diagnosed.

“Even if I have two stoma bags, I’m glad I’m not in pain anymore and I can go out and enjoy time with family and friends.

“I want more people to know about ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease and stoma bags – that even if you have a bag, it doesn’t stop you doing what you want to do.”

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