Many young people who are undergoing ileostomy surgery to treat Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis have never met another younger person with an ostomy. Gaylyn Henderson, founder of Gutless and Glamorous, wants to make sure that people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) don’t experience the uncertainty and stigma that she encountered before her ostomy surgery. In between running a successful foundation and a support group for people with chronic illness, Gaylyn has also become a spokeswoman for people with an ostomy, proving that her ileostomy is not a barrier to success.
I was fortunate to see The Matrix on its first run in theaters when it came out on March 31, 1999. We knew little about the movie at the time, just that it was science fiction and it looked amazing and that we would want to see it on the big screen and not later on VHS (DVD was not yet mainstream). The movie came out only a few weeks after my first of two surgeries to create my j-pouch (or IPAA, ileal pouch-anal anastomosis) to treat ulcerative colitis (which is one form of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD).
I love The Matrix, and how could I not? It contains so many narrative aspects I enjoy, including science fiction, robots taking over the world, an unconventionally beautiful and lethal female character, and a kick-ass soundtrack. To be honest, there are a lot of things about the plot that don’t hold up to serious scrutiny. But that’s fine, it is still amazing and undeniably groundbreaking in both storytelling and technical aspects.
When The Matrix opens, the watcher has no idea what is going on. This is my favorite way to be pulled into a story: absolutely cold, with no frame of reference. There’s no exposition and the narrative plunks you right into this universe that works differently than the one you know. You have to make a decision right then and there, if you are all in and if you’re ready for the filmmakers to take you on the ride and teach you about their world. For me, it was my first time being out of the house and enjoying myself after having surgery, and I was so ready.
(Mild spoilers for The Matrix are contained in this article, so if you haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it lately, go watch it now. I mean, how can you exist in the world and understand what other people talk about without having seen it?)
How can we help new ostomates better adjust to their stoma? Megan Johnson, who you might better know as The Front Butt YouTuber, had a unique journey on the way to becoming a permanent ileostomate due to Crohn’s disease. Her experiences with the abysmal patient education material in the hospital after ostomy surgery sparked her desire to make accessible content that helps people adjust after surgery and “be comfortable in their own skin.”
What are your goals? Are you taking steps each day to move towards those goals? Brian Greenberg, endurance athlete and president of Chronically Better You, tells us how he moved from goals after surgery—getting out of bed and making his own lunch—to training for an Ironman in 2018. People with IBD know the value of structure and Brian explains how he has learned to manage his life with Crohn’s disease and an ostomy through careful planning and setting goals.
Being diagnosed with IBD as a child presents special challenges for kids and for parents. Learn how Brian Greenberg of Intense Intestines Foundation dealt with a Crohn’s disease diagnosis at a young age and transitioned from being a child reliant on parents to help manage his IBD to learning how to manage it all himself.