Florian Lévesque Président
Protective Ostomy Belt
Ostomate at 51 Years old
"My life quality remains very good; I learned to live with a stoma."
In 2000, I moved to Granby, in the Eastern Townships, approximately 80 kilometers south from Montreal. I chose the Townships for its beauty and the many sports that are available, such as golf, bicycling, nature paths, etc. This area has indeed the most beautiful cycle trails of the province and also some of its most beautiful mountains.
I chose Granby for its renown as having the best restaurants and also to live life to its fullest. Destiny however, decided differently. One morning, I got up with diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and blood in my stools. Thinking I had caught a virus, I went to the hospital. That is where the unending questions started, followed by a battery of tests: blood tests, samples of my stools, scans, a coloscopy, and more, including a three day stay in the hospital.
Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn's Disease?
After the coloscopy, the doctors believed I had an acute ulcerative Colitis, therefore, risk of Cancer. Treatments diminish the evolution of the disease for the short term, but the secondary effects are enormous. During ten months they tried to treat me using standard procedures but without any significant results. I had therefore to face an extreme solution: the ablation of my large intestine and, of course, the need to wear an ostomy pouch for the remainder of my days! It is without joy that I resigned myself to this serious operation.
They removed my colon and appendix and sent them to the labs for tests. Surprise! My illness was not ulcerative Colitis, but Crohn's Disease. Many thoughts ran through my head and I even doubted the competency of my physicians. It was now too late... without any possibility of reversing the procedure; I had to face the fact of living the rest of my days with a pouch stuck to my stomach, a permanent ileostomy. Had there been a medical error? Could they have possibly kept the uninfected part of my colon? These are questions that will always remain unanswered.
The doctors explained, however, that it was extremely difficult to distinguish between these two diseases. In my case, the symptoms were completely misleading. For me, Chrohn’s disease was hard to accept and to deal with. When I went out, my first inquiry was: “Where is the bathroom? Where is the exit?” Leisure activities became more and more complicated and awkward.
For me, an ostomy pouch was a definite NO. In my head, living with an ostomy pouch stuck to my body scared me on all these levels and it was inconceivable for me. I was aware that accepting it was not going to be easy. I was really pessimistic. Crohn's disease would result in my certain death; of that outcome, I was sure. I therefore calmed myself and became resigned to my fate. That changed my life in the most positive way.
Living with an ostomy
I’ve been am ostomate for 16 years now and I realize that wearing an ostomy pouch is not the end of the world; far from it. The ostomy pouch is part of my daily life and I manage with no difficulty. I’m not scared and frightened anymore. I left Chron’s disease way behind me. I still have a great quality of life since there are few things that I cannot do. If I do not tell people of my condition, there are very few chances that they will realize it on their own.
The disease has even given me a job. In 2004, I invented an ostomy belt and this innovation expanded very fast since. This helped me become a specialized undergarment manufacturer for ostomates for several years now. I have no more time to be sick.
I would like to tell this to anyone living with an intestinal illness: “If one day you’re faced with an ostomy, don’t be scared. The ostomy pouch gave me a good quality of life and it can do the same for you.”
The ostomy system allows me to meet wonderful, good and love-filled people every day. I cannot overlook the healthcare personnel in the ostomy field. Ostomy therapists and nurses are wonderful people who have supported and helped me adapt to my new life.
Finally, I would like to tell you that I have discovered more things in these past 11 years living with Crohn’s disease than in my first 51 years .