Zoey Wright shares her journey from a chronic diagnosis, living with an Ostomy bag to winning bodybuilding championships
When my symptoms become apparent I struggled In silence for a long time, I really didn't understand why my body was choosing to cause me so much pain.
I was ashamed and embarrassed by the symptoms that came alongside Ulcerative Colitis (UC) a form of Inflammatory Bowel disease (IBD). Symptoms such as urgency, extremely bloody stools and very serve pain & tiredness. I finally gave In and visited my Doctor, this is where everything became real I was referred for a procedure called a 'colonoscopy' which confirmed that I had UC everything after that was a downwards spiral .. a blur.
I was admitted into hospital a month later, possibly at the worst time as I had just started university butmy body was just shutting down and I didn't even realise, with UC the white blood cells attack the healthy lining of the bowel wall making the bowel very ulcerated, there is still no known cure and is a lifelong condition, this is something I found out whilst my month of hell battling my own body. I become severely anemic and needed countless infusions of Iron & potassium to get my levels back up to a safe place.
I remember stepping on the scales and seeing the numbers and I couldn't believe it, I went from being a healthy 140lb to an unhealthy 112lb in less than 4 weeks I just cried.. I cried a lot, I could barely walk and sometimes I couldn't even leave my bed to even wash myself I was so weak.
That was when my consultant faced me with having my bowel removed and living with an Ileostomy I never even knew what one was let alone what it looked like, my condition was deteriorating rapidly. My mother was called in as It was an emergency despite the fact the ward I was on was quarantined due to a sickness bug (luckily I didn't get) I remember being In a room faced with so many doctors and nurses so much was going on and all I was doing was looking outside the window wishing I was a bird so I could fly away... my Mother stayed so strong, I kept asking her 'why are you so clam they are telling me if I don't have this surgery it could be fatal.' She was my rock that day, she's normally the most emotional person I know, the type of person who cries at a cheesy adverts on TV and cries her heart out over sad films.. but not today she was superwoman, my superwoman.
Long story short I managed to escape surgery with a cocktail of Infusions & transfusions under the care of a great consultant, I will forever be thankful for how he saved my life & from surgery in 2012 It was like a miracle, all of my prayers had been heard.
After that hospital stay I made it my mission to put back on the weight I lost but I knew It would be a struggle especially with my condition so I decided to go down the root of bodybuilding and this was where my journey began in early 2013.
My Partner Conor couldn't of been anymore supportive from back in 2012 until now... he believes that nothing is impossible to achieve, his motivation in life has definitely rubbed off onto me and grafted me into the person I am today.
With his guidance's and my interest In the sport I continued to work at it every single day becoming stronger and stronger.
But every time I was getting stronger... my UC would remind me it was there, tearing away my insides causing me chronic pain leading to countless hospital admissions, countless drugs, treatments ... It was mentally & physically pulling me down.
I decided to have my total bowel removed, leaving me with an Ileostomy.
It wasn't just the best decision I had ever made, but it was also at the right time in my life.
Waking up after the surgery was hard, the 2 weeks in hospital after were challenging but I'm now 9 months on and I've never felt so alive. I wouldn't have made it this far without such a positive attitude and support network.
When ever I felt down, I found myself turning it into motivation. Yes this illness had taken my bowel and changed me physically but why let it change you mentally ? When you have such passion and drive for something you enjoy nothing will stop you. Dig deep, find that ball of fire raging in your stomach... take it, set some goals push aside all the doubts you have in your mind. The little voice in your head telling you 'you can't' because you can.
Post surgery I set my self several goals, and 1 of them was to walk to the hospitals shop at 5 days post surgery.. and I did it, It was a struggle, it was painful I wanted to give up ... but I was determined to achieve this goal, and I did. This is still one of my proudest moments in my life, and it was only a little walk! But if you're able to achieve these goals at your lowest you're winning.
So if tiredness has really hit you hard, set yourself goals... a little walk, a shower. Make yourself proud every single day, and I assure you theses are the little things that count for a healthy mental state.
I'm currently In training for my 1st ever bodybuilding show, never did I dream of doing this when I first woke up after surgery.. but its happening and It's happening because my Ostomy has made me strong again. I'm so proud of how far I've come, everyday I surprise myself.
Bodybuilding has always been my coping mechanism and it continue to be that every single day. I'm in control and I'm going to kill it!