5 Years of fighting a chronic illness & adapting my ever-changing health to allow me to continue training.
I’ve been a gym fanatic for almost my whole adult life. I love nothing more than the rush of endorphins after a good training session.
Life changed for me in October 2014, after years of suffering toilet and tummy issues, which were being monitored without a diagnosis by my consultant since 2006. On the 10th of October, 2014, things became much more serious. I was rushed into the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in excruciating pain. To look at me, you would have thought I was 9 months pregnant, while in actual fact, I was full of poo.
After years of numerous acute hospital admissions, I was finally diagnosed with Pelvic Floor dysfunction along with complete paralysis of my rectum, anus, and urethra muscles. Basically, I could no longer pee or poo naturally like a “normal” person. I relied on machines and catheters for 2 years to empty my system of waste. As a young woman in her 30’s, I became withdrawn, ashamed, and embarrassed. I pulled out of social events would cancel last minute on friends and sunk into a depression.
I still, however, loved going to the gym; this became my saving grace. I adapted my sessions and continued my training with the support of friends and fitness professionals. The gym became my safe haven, a place where I could forget my worries and just be me, nobody judged me for wearing a foley catheter on my leg (bag to collect urine) they just helped me to adapt my training plans around it.
After each hospital admission, I would return to the gym as soon as I possibly could. Exercise was great for my gut health but also my mental health. However, my condition continued to deteriorate, and the decision was made to perform a procedure to allow me to have what is commonly known as a stoma created. This would allow me to poop out of my stomach by pulling my small intestine outwith my body, preventing my waste, aka poop to pass through my non-working colon, rectum, and anus. I became what we are refer to as an Ostomate. My ileostomy surgery was successful and allowed me to live without the pain id lived with for all those years. However, having an ileostomy (form of stoma procedure), I found I then had new challenges ahead, especially in regards to my training.
Now, after all this, you are most likely thinking, “surely you have given up the gym now,” my answer to that is “not a chance.” I’ve spent 5 months recovering, allowing my abdominal muscles to heal, the NHS have given me a hernia support belt to allow me to continue training in amature bodybuilding so giving up is not an option.
I believe when you are faced with challenges such as a chronic illness or something like basic weight loss, it's essential to have a good positive mindset to help get you motivated into taking the first steps forward into your new journey.
For me, my anxieties were about my clothes fitting or my bag leaking out poo in the gym, which people could see or smell. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I decided to actively look for help and ways to break down the barriers in my head. First of all, my friend Vivienne McLaughlin also known as ‘The wee pt’, offered to help build my confidence up and ensure I wasn’t training any core muscles that I shouldn’t to prevent a hernia. With that in place, I then entered into a conversation with Carly Thomson after discussing how amazing it would be to win a pair of the gluteywear leggings. The leggings are a perfect design with great support for someone like me who has a stoma bag. I’ve since tried them out, and I can honestly say they gave me the confidence to train without anxiety through their support and flattering design.
Thank you, Carly, for your kindness and help regaining my confidence in gym wear.