Swimming with a stoma – Tasha’s story

01 June, 2019

This Saturday Leicester hosts our third Active Ostomates swim of the year.

In the lead up to the day , Para swimmer Tasha Critchley shares the challenges she faced after stoma surgery

“Hi everyone. If you are reading this story, you possibly either have a stoma or are preparing for surgery. Well, here is a bit about me.

My name is Natasha Critchley and I am a classified British Para Swimmer and I have competed at multiple events.

I have Crohns Disease and also a Colostomy. I was diagnosed with Crohns when I was 13 years old. I’ve tried liquid only diets, Immunosuppressants, Infliximab, Inflectra, Budesonide steroids and Prednisolone steroids. Some of them worked and put me into remission for a period of time, others such as the Budesonide steroids didn’t work at all.

When I was diagnosed I had a Nasogastric tube so I could be fed through it to give my bowel a complete rest. I had that for 8 weeks before being able to slowly reintroduce food again. I was in remission for a few months before relapsing and being put on Prednisolone steroids. These worked great and I was in remission for around a year.

Once again I relapsed so the consultants put me onto Infliximab which is an intravenous drug. This had to be given in hospital as a day case procedure. I called this my miracle drug. It worked great and I could feel an improvement within days. I stayed on this for 18 months before being taken off it due to it having done its job. A year later I relapsed again so I went back to Prednisolone.

A few months later I was transferred over to adult care. I was put back onto Prednisolone steroids after around a year and a half. I was on them for so long that they had to change me onto Budesonide steroids in order to try and get my body used to not having any steroids in my system. These didn’t work so I had to go back onto Prednisolone.

Two years later, I was told that I would probably need surgery in order to relieve some of the symptoms. Within a few weeks I had an appointment with the surgeon to discuss what would happen. He told me that I would definitely wake up with a stoma because I was unable to take the bowel prep due to an extremely narrow stricture. A week later I was admitted as an emergency case and had surgery 2 days later (2 weeks earlier than planned). I woke up in recovery with a colostomy bag on my left side. This was on the 30th November 2019.

I had to stay in the hospital for 11 days after my surgery due to my colostomy not working. I had an x-ray to check for any blockages and ended up needing an enema through the stoma in order to get it working properly. The next day the stoma started producing output so the surgeon was happy. The next day the stoma nurses told the surgeon I was competent enough to go home. I went home and started to adapt to life with a stoma.

Five months on from surgery I am back in the pool swimming as much as I can. I have been travelling to Malta and Spain without any issues. I enjoy helping people who have a  stoma. I like to reassure people and show them that whether you have a stoma or not, you can still live life to the full, Including getting in the pool!

Our Leicester Active Ostomates swim takes place at the Aylestone Leisure Centre this Saturday from 5pm to 8pm. For more details or to book your place email giovanni.cinque@colostomyuk.org or call 0118 939 1537


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