My name is Tania and I am a 53 year old wife, mother, daughter and sister.  I have four children, all grown up, and two grandchildren. Family is the most important thing to me in the world.  We are all very close and love spending time together, having meals together and holidays together. But this all became a lot more difficult for me just over two years ago.  I became very sick.  After struggling with my bowels and eating for quite some time, everything came to a head.  I literally couldn’t do anything anymore.  I was in so much pain.  My bowels felt like they were going to explode, I found it extremely difficult to eat as it made me feel sick and most of the time I would bring it back up.  I had already been under the care of a Colorectal Surgeon for seven years because of previous problems I’d had with constipation and pain.

After years of struggling with slow transit constipation and rectal prolapses and several operations, my Colorectal Surgeon suggested that I get a stoma. I didn’t even know what that was! He explained to me that there were several different types of stomas and what I would be having is called an ileostomy.

I had suffered for years from slow transition constipation.  It basically means that the colon no longer has the ability to push through faecal matter to exit the body.  On top of that I had a rectal prolapse that caused my bowel to block off the rectum by collapsing in on itself.  I had an operation called a rectopexy, where the surgeon implants mesh on both sides of the rectum and secures it to the sacrum.  This is supposed to aid in holding the rectum up and stopping it from blocking the exit.  I had several other operations to try and help but nothing worked.  I took every laxative on the market and ate endless bags of prunes and kiwi fruit and anything else that was supposed to help you poo!  The problem wasn’t the consistency of the faeces it was the mechanics of the colon that had failed.  I have since been diagnosed with intestinal failure and gastroparesis.  Gastroparesis is a delayed emptying of the stomach.  So not only was it hard for everything to come out, it was also hard for it to get in!

The first decision to make was to have the ileostomy.  I agreed to give it go.  My surgeon told me that it was totally reversible if it didn’t work out and if it did we could make a decision to make it permanent in six months time.  Because of the way a temporary or a loop ileostomy works we decided to do an end ileostomy but to keep the other end close to the stoma.  With a loop, some waste can get into the colon and therefore needs to come out the “natural” way.

The surgery went well except I developed a parastomal hernia the day the stoma was created.  Here is probably a good place to mention that I have a condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which affects the integrity of the connective tissue in my body.  This is the reason for my prolapses and paralysis in my digestive system.  It is also the reason for the hernia as my connective tissue is weak and difficult to stitch together.  I have mesh all through my body because of the many hernias and prolapses I’ve had.

When I first had the ileostomy formed the hospital used their regular Ostomy products on me and within days I was covered in a rash.  It was awful.  Within two weeks of getting my stoma the hernia had strangled and I had to have urgent surgery at Auckland Hospital.  It was after that operation that I woke up with a two piece Hollister system on.  That was over a year ago and I’ve never looked back!!  My skin loves Hollister products, especially the CeraplusTM flange.  I love the two piece system.  It is so easy to fit and put on.  I’ve had a few hiccups with my stoma because of the Elhers-Danlos which has meant several surgeries to put it back into place but we have finally got there.

I am no longer in excruciating pain from the constipation and the prolapses and with the ease of using the Hollister products I will be sticking with a permanent ileostomy.  It’s amazing how much easier it has made life for me.  I’m sleeping really well for the first time in as long as I can remember and the confidence I have in the Hollister products contribute to that.

Before I started getting sick I used to love going for long walks with my dogs and my husband.  Going to the beach, shopping, going out for coffee and all those things that just make life enjoyable.  I love gardening.  I especially love Spring when I redo all my flower pots and watch the flowers start to bloom.  I love to travel and especially to Sydney where my daughter lives with her husband and two children. But being so sick had taken that away from me.

Thankfully I am starting to make my way back and beginning to enjoy these things once again.  Last Christmas I was very weak and really sick but this Christmas I am heading to Melbourne to have Christmas with my family and then Sydney to spend two weeks with my daughter and her family.  I have so much to live for.

The great thing about Hollister is that if one product doesn’t suit your needs there is always something else that will.  I have been using the Ceraplus TM flat flange and midi bag since I got my ileostomy, along with the CeraplusTM ring and the AdaptTM powder.  But recently I have had to change over to a convex flange as my stoma has decided to play hide and seek.  This is where the bowel is really active and moves around a lot and the stoma goes with it.  So mine will point in all directions and sometimes will almost flatten out.  But with the convex flange, it encourages your stoma to stay put and to always be protruding.  It was such an easy fix.

Getting a stoma for whatever reason can be a very scary and traumatic time, especially depending on your circumstances.  But it doesn’t have to be extremely difficult.  We have tremendous people in our community to help us get through the stages of growing used to the changes in our bodies.  Hollister are definitely one of them.  I have always found them extremely helpful along with the stoma nurses to find the right product and the right fit for me.  I’m always looking forward to the ever evolving ideas that Hollister are coming up with to make our lives as normal as possible.  I am so thankful to medical science, my surgeon, family and Hollister for supporting me all the way.


Personal Stories

Video about how a stoma affects daily life.


A diagnosis of rectal cancer resulted in a stoma for Graham.