Meet Lee-Ann Watanabe

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My Ulcerative Colitis, IBD and ileostomy journeys have been a long road for sure! I spent most of my 30s trying every single pill, steroid, infusion, shot, diet, and remedy you could possibly fathom, all without relief. When the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN suggested that I undergo ileostomy surgery, I knew I was ready. After a decade of suffering, I was reborn on December 7th, 2015, following a permanent and total proctocolectomy with ileostomy.


My advice for others diagnosed with IBD and/or contemplating ostomy surgery, would be for them to ask ALL the questions; especially of your medical team. I was young and naive when first diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Upon initial diagnosis, I didn't think it was that serious. I didn't believe I was sick, and all I wanted to do was get well and get back to racing triathlon. I took any and every medication Doctors gave me, and I never questioned any of it. I never asked for a different way. I never thought that 10 years later, all the medications would stop working or not work at all. If I could do it over, I would find a Doctor who was highly experienced with IBD patients.

If I could let people know something about IBD, it would be that I am a living, breathing example of invisible illness. I never looked sick. Even when sick, I continued my competitive triathlon racing. Don't judge a book by its cover. My sport was my outlet; something I could control while my body continually failed me. Everything happens in your mind. With a positive outlook and a great attitude, everything is possible!

For many years, sick was my new normal. I was not living life; I was just surviving life with UC. Now, as an ostomate, I can say with 100% certainty that I am free. When I made the decision to have surgery, I decided I would advocate to show the world what people living with an ostomy can do. And you know what? There isn't anything someone living with an ostomy CAN'T do!

 

 

There isn't anything someone living with an ostomy CAN'T do!

  

 

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