After 10 years of flare-ups, hospitalizations and weight gain from medication due to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, Linda opted for ileostomy surgery. At age 51, her life began again. Now she uses her newfound zest and enjoyment for life to help others dealing with an intestinal disease.
Linda went from struggling with everyday activities, including her duties as a nursing instructor, to playing with her grandchildren, traveling abroad with her husband, and even going on a 3-hour kayaking trip in the Adirondack Mountains. She also lost 100 pounds through daily exercise and healthy eating, which boosted her self-confidence to feel comfortable enough to appear in a bathing suit in the United Ostomy Associations of America’s (UOAA) “Living with an Ostomy” video.
No one really wants to deal with a pouch, but I am alive!“Life is so much sweeter after the surgery. I have energy that I didn't even know I had lost. I've also learned to cherish little things that i used to take for granted and to have a sense of humor about it all."
“Life is so much sweeter after the surgery,” says Linda. “I have energy that I didn’t even know I had lost. I’ve also learned to cherish little things that I used to take for granted and to have a sense of humor about it all.”
Being a patient brought on a new respect and admiration for her chosen profession and Linda shared this as an inspirational speaker at the Cayuga Medical Center during National Nurses Week. She spoke of how essential nurses are for patient care, which has led to her decision to become a certified ostomy nurse following retirement. She hopes to extend her services past her hometown and travel abroad on mission trips to provide aid to underprivileged adults and children living with an ostomy.
Linda, however, notes that she couldn’t have made the mental or physical transformation on her own. Her husband of 34 years, Ed, and her nursing students, many of whom treated her while she was in the hospital, provided constant support and encouragement. She found additional strength from her local UOAA chapter and its leader, WOCN Heidi Cross.
“I continue to hope that my openness with my ostomy will help others reach a sense of acceptance no matter what health challenges they face.”