My revenge mission to feel sexy
Drastic surgery changed everything for Chloe Wilson, 22, from Lincolnshire, but not how you'd think...
Curled up on the sofa, I groaned in agony. It was a Saturday night in 2014 and I was due to go out with my girlfriends. But, right now, the thought of a cocktail made me feel sick. Sorry girls, I texted them
all. But I’ll have to pass on tonight. I feel awful.
I felt so glum. I was only 18, but lately I’d lost count of the nights out I’d had to cancel due to terrible stomach cramps.
The doctors weren’t sure what it was, but the pain was so bad that it sometimes made me vomit.
My problems had started six years earlier when I was 12.
Eventually, I’d been diagnosed as lactose intolerant. Then, when a dairy-free diet made no difference, I’d been told that I had irritable bowel syndrome.
Taking the doctor’s word as gospel, I’d taken dozens of painkillers a day.
‘They’re not making any difference,’ I’d sobbed to my mum Margaret, 62.
Miraculously, I’d sat my GCSES and got a hairdressing apprenticeship.
But the constant pain and frantic trips to the loo were becoming unbearable.
‘Please help!’ I’d begged the doctor.
But he’d said pain was just a normal symptom of IBS. Other than giving me more painkillers, there wasn’t much they could do.
So here I was, aged 18 and missing out on life, thanks to this awful pain.
‘I wish the doctors could do something,’ I said to Mum one day, ‘I feel so fobbed off.’
That’s when I realised, if they couldn’t help me, I’d have to help myself. Instead of missing out on life, I needed to seize the day.
So, towards the end of 2014, I decided to take a risk.
‘I’m going to learn pole dancing,’ I told Mum.
I’d been talked into it by a friend, wanted to do something sexy and fun that would boost my confidence. ‘Good for you!’ Mum said. I was so nervous at my first class at a local studio a
few weeks later. But everyone was so friendly.
At first I was hopeless – we all were. We’d giggle like mad as we fell off the pole.
But, in time, I got the hang of it, despite my pain, and could contort my body into crazy poses.
I loved it – the camaraderie, the feeling of being strong, sexy.
But sadly, after two years of on-and-off lessons, my pain became crippling...so I had to drop out.
I was gutted. But the pain was so bad, I’d soon practically become a hermit.
And utterly miserable. Then in January 2017, I was in the bathroom at home when I felt a stabbing pain in my stomach, so bad it felt like my insides would fall out.
It felt as if something had ruptured and I collapsed onto the floor. The pain was like nothing I’d ever felt.
Am I dying?
My parents heard me scream and rushed me to the hospital. At first they thought my appendix was rupturing – but after scans, they thought I had a ruptured ovarian cyst.
Armed with medication, I hoped this would be the end of my agony.
But the pain continued after I was discharged. And, two months later, I collapsed again at home.
Admitted to hospital for loads of tests, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
‘It’s a long-term chronic condition that affects your bowel and rectum,’ a doctor said. ‘I don’t know how you’ve lived with pain this long.’ I sobbed with relief. Though the diagnosis was terrifying, finally someone understood, could help me.
‘You have two options,’ my doctor said. ‘You can have strong meds, or surgery to fit a stoma bag.’
Turns out it’s a bag attached to the outside of your body.
It collects your waste from your bowel through a hole in your torso, and stores it in a pouch.
Basically a poo bag, strapped to your tum.
I was only 20 –
I couldn’t have that!
‘I’ll go for the meds,’
I said, grossed out.
I was dosed up, but my pain got worse and worse. Unable to eat proper food, I lost almost a stone and, four days after I’d turned up my nose to a poo bag, I was begging for one.
‘Give me the surgery!’ I pleaded.
Anything had to be better than this agony.
My op was booked for 19 April. The day before, a healthcare assistant came to visit me.
‘Are you sure you want this?’ she asked. ‘You’ll never be able to wear a pretty bikini like all your friends.’ Suddenly, I felt angry.
‘I can do what I want, thanks,’ I smiled tightly.
And, falling asleep the night before my op, I was already planning how to prove her wrong.
Surgery to remove my large bowel took eight hours. When I woke up, the first thing I noticed was that I wasn’t in pain. I wept with relief! Living with agony for so long, it was only now I realised just how much I’d been coping with.
Right then, I realised that was so much more important than what my stoma looked like.
But I still braced myself when I peered down at my torso.
And there it was… My poo bag! But the funny thing was, it looked OK.
In fact, I thought it was amazing. I mean, part of my small bowel had been pulled through past my intestine and secured to a bag on my tummy.
So now, instead of sitting on the loo, that’s where my bowels emptied.
Pretty nifty, I thought.
I only needed to change it every 48 hours, and it didn’t hurt, either.
After two months, I timidly turned up to pole-dancing classes again. It had been ages, but I’d stayed in touch with all the gang, and they knew what I’d been through.
So, when I walked back in, everyone rushed over.
‘Welcome back!’ they said, hugging me.
You might wonder why I went back, especially now I had a stoma. Well, in a weird way, it was because I had a stoma that I returned.
Not just because it meant I’d be able to twirl and spin pain free – but because I didn’t want to be defined by the little bag.
I wanted to prove that nurse who suggested a stoma was something to hide away was wrong.
The support from my classmates when I took off my kit to dance in hotpants and bra, stoma on display, was immediate proof. ‘Well done, you!’ they said. Soon I was flying around the pole again. Only now, there was no pain, just pure joy.
And when I went on holiday to Tenerife last summer,
I even wore a bikini! Sure, some people stared but
I just smiled, waved back.
Now I’ve had my stoma, my life is better than ever. I’m pain free, have so much fun pole dancing, and I’ve even found love with a fab new guy called Thomas, 21.
That nurse upset me when she suggested you couldn’t be sexy with a stoma bag.
I’ve proved that isn’t true. I’ll keep pole dancing and bikini wearing until I’m old and grey.
And if people don’t like it, they can moan and whisper all they want – I’ll be off on my pole, having a blast!
I peered down at my torso and there it was… My poo bag!
It’s pole position for me now!
Chilling by the pool – in a pretty bikini!