Shayla’s Story | Ulcerative Colitis

At 20 years old I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I spent the next five years in and out of the gastrointestinal specialist office. Medications were not working and my “flare ups” were an everyday occurrence. I woke up one day hemorrhaging, and not just a little spot of blood. I mean, really hemorrhaging. I rushed myself from my apartment to my mother’s house where she brought me to Holy Family Hospital (I see you Nurse Destiny).  The hospital was chalk full with sick people. So much so, that they stuck me in the psych ward.

There I stayed for a week while they fiddled with my charts. Staying in a psych ward while your abdomen is a raging inferno…not recommended. Finally they transferred me to Mass General. I was rushed in and put on a morphine drip. I now had a team of doctors and surgeons who were going to take care of me. My first week at Mass General they tried different intervenes medications to see if they could control my flare up. Nothing was working and I was now hemorrhaging up to 20 times a day.


My surgeon decides it’s time to remove the affected part of my intestine. I remember being so scared and wanting them to wait for my mom to get there. I woke up from surgery convulsing. I could hear the nurses around me talking to each other about it nervously, but I couldn’t communicate with them, I was so out of it. I really came to when they brought me back to my room. The epidural didn’t work on one side and it felt as though my stomach was going to burst. Something was very wrong. The next day I decided I wanted a shower…I got myself up, turned on the water and stepped inside. If I close my eyes I can still remember this moment perfectly. The warm water running down, one hand bracing myself on the shower wall and then the smell. A putrid, dying, stench. The sutures were under so much pressure from my stomach being distended that they burst. The smell of rotting insides lingered in that room for days. I had pockets of infection from the removal of my large intestine; the doctors kept me awake while they poked drain tubes into my body to release the infections. Not just once, but three times.


There were times during my stay at the hospital where it was pretty touch and surgeon was so incredible and he assured me, he would not let me die. He held up his end of he bargain, though at the end of my two month stay my muscles had atrophied. This resulted in me having to use a walker..I quickly graduated to a cane.
Three surgeries later, I no longer have a colostomy bag but a J pouch which allows me to live a pretty “normal life.”


Growing up my parents always said “this too, shall pass” and they repeated that to me over and over while I was in the hospital and recovering. So yes, “this too”.


HMU: Max Charles Salon

Styling: Lilly Ann Boutique

Photography: Mercy Street Studio