Positive and hon­est – af­ter 34 op­er­a­tions

Southport Visiter - - Front Page - BY EMILIA BONA [email protected]­plc.com @SeftonE­cho

WHEN Polly Holmes-Carr was 22, she was taken down for surgery with a cross marked out on her stom­ach.

She had no idea what she was go­ing to wake up to and that her life was about to change for­ever.

Polly, from South­port, was hav­ing prob­lems with her stom­ach, find­ing it painful to eat and go to the toi­let.

Doc­tors put it down to an eat­ing dis­or­der and sent her to a clinic for women with anorexia or bu­limia.

It didn’t work. Her weight dropped to 6st 13lb and she kept telling staff she was hav­ing prob­lems with her stom­ach.

Even­tu­ally, she was di­ag­nosed with Crohn’s dis­ease.

Since her di­ag­no­sis in 1996, Polly has had to have 34 sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures – but more than 20 years later, the mem­ory of her first op­er­a­tion still rep­re­sents a low point in her jour­ney.

She said: “I went down to surgery, had a lit­tle cross on my side and lit­tle ex­pla­na­tion as to what a stoma bag was.

“It wasn’t a positive part of my jour­ney. I’ve made it positive since.

“I went down to the­atre with a cross on my side. I was so phys­i­cally and men­tally poorly. I thought the cross was where they were go­ing in for surgery and woke up to a shock – to find I was poo­ing out of my stom­ach.

“I woke up cov­ered in poo. It was a re­ally poor mem­ory for me.”

Be­ing fit­ted with a stoma bag at 22 is in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult for any young woman to come to terms with.

While all your friends are think­ing about dat­ing and nights out, the re­al­ity of liv­ing with a stoma can be a mas­sive knock to any­one’s con­fi­dence or sense of at­trac­tive­ness.

Now 44 and a mum-ofone, Polly has been with her hus­band, Garry, since she was first di­ag­nosed.

How­ever, she un­der­stands how dif­fi­cult it must be try­ing to nav­i­gate the dat­ing game as a young woman with her con­di­tion.

She said: “We all poo – I just poo out of a dif­fer­ent place and I’m lucky to have a very sup­port­ive part­ner that makes me feel pretty.

“He made me feel pretty at 6st and now I’m 14st and feel in my own head like a very dif­fer­ent per­son – but he makes me feel like a pretty princess, which is hard when you’re leak­ing poo out of the wrong place in your body.”

She added: “Peo­ple don’t un­der­stand the men­tal over­tones be­cause it re­ally af­fects your con­fi­dence.

“I was re­ally lucky to be with the same man all the way through, but if you’re sin­gle and have to ad­just to life it must be so hard.

“I want to help other 21-year-old girls who are go­ing through it.”

Polly, who is now 44, has pe­ri­anal fis­tulis­ing Crohn’s, which is where an ab­nor­mal chan­nel con­nects the in­tes­tine to the skin or an­other or­gan. In her case, one of hers con­nects to the vagina.

De­spite liv­ing with what could be an em­bar­rass­ing con­di­tion, her ap­proach is to be open, hon­est and positive about her sit­u­a­tion.

Polly Holmes-Carr, above, with her hus­band Garry; af­ter an op­er­a­tion, left, and, right, with Garry and son De­clan

Polly and her friend, Tracey, went to Lon­don as part of World Os­tomy Day

Polly and Tracey

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