After having 18 inches of her bowel removed, Victoria Sewell was unsure if she could have children.But just months after major surgery she fell pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy, Louie, who is now one.
The 27-year-old is now wanting to use her experiences to support others and has set up a help group for Crohn’s Disease and colitis sufferers.Victoria, of Clayton-le-Woods, was just 19 when she was diagnosed with Crohn’s, a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system.
By the time she reached the age of 24, she began experiencing terrible pains and had major surgery to remove 18 inches of her bowel.She was so poorly doctors said if they hadn’t operated on her when they did in 2014 she wouldn’t have survived.
She said: “I got diagnosed when I was 19, I had a lot of problems because they kept saying it was IBS.“By January 2014, I had been in pain for about three months.“MRI scan and blood tests found an abscess in my bowel that had been untreated. I ended up having 18 inches of my small bowel removed, I had six months off work because of an infection in the scar tissue. The surgeon told me if he hadn’t operated that night I would have died, as it had gone septic. I had abdominal sepsis.“I was unsure if I could have children, but that same year I got pregnant. It was like a miracle, as my body was so weak.“After the operation I had to stay at my grandparents to use their stair lift as I struggled to walk up the stairs and I was on a liquid diet.“I still struggle now, but I feel I have come a long way since the operation.”
Whilst she was recovering, Victoria decided to raise awareness of the condition.She set up Crohn’s and Colitis Support Group Lancashire, which meets on the last Wednesday of the month at Spring Meadow Community Centre, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, from 6.45pm until 8pm. The next session is May 24.
She said: “Since my operation, it has spurred me on to help others. I have met a lot of people in my situation and they feel alone.“I will always have Crohn’s but I am learning to get on with it. I won’t let it restrict my life and achieve my dreams. I have a catheter which has been hard, but now I don’t mind telling people. It saves my life - why should I be ashamed of it? “I have made major changes to my life, including chasing my dream to be a hairdresser, which has been achieved thanks to Kersey Hairdressing in Grimsargh.“I had previously got help from Crohn’s and Colitis UK, but they were unable to fund a group in the Lancashire area, so I decided to set one up myself.“I want to raise awareness about how it is an invisible illness. When I am having a bad day, I can look the same - it is all about how you are on the inside. “It is important for employers to know that a person may be really poorly but not even look it. People struggle to empathise with sufferers as they don’t understand. “I want to show having these conditions doesn’t always have to be negative. My sister, Eve, 19, has just been diagnosed with the same condition and she too has to have 18 inches of her bowel removed, like me. I want to give her as much support as I can and show things are not always bad and you can still have a normal life.”
For more information visit Crohn's & Colitis Support Group Lancashire on Facebook