Doctors initially diagnosed him with ulcerative colitis, but later realized he, in fact, had Crohn’sdisease.
Before this inflammatory bowel disease ravaged his entire digestive tract, or cost Holman his life, doctors opted to remove the inflamed portionof his small intestine. This choice definitively resigned Holmanto forevermore wear a colostomy (or ostomy) bag, anda few other live-preserving accessories.
This brave fighter shared his story hoping itempowered others to embrace his positive attitude.
Holman told LittleThings, “When I completely opened up about my disease, it lifted a weight off my shoulders, and now, I feel comfortable discussing all aspects of my disease with people.”
Keep scrolling to learn all about this man’s journey toward wellness, and how his openness has already inspired so many others to shedtheir shame.
For years, every meal Stephen Holman ate surgedcrippling pain through his entirebody.
At first, doctors diagnosed him with ulcerative colitis, or UC, an inflammatory bowel disease that only affects the colon.
The West Des Moines, IA, nativetold LittleThings, “When I was first diagnosed with UC, I just had one of those, ‘Oh, well that makes sense’ reactions, and just kind of carried on my way. The pills I took for it right after my diagnosis seemed to work really well for me in the beginning.
“However, I had my entire colon removed about a year and a half after my UC diagnosis, because things got really severe.
“It was expected that the UC would calm down after my colon was taken out, but it never did.”
A year after Holman had his colon removed, doctor’s finally diagnosed him with Crohn’s Disease another inflammatory bowel disease that affects the entire digestive tract lining.
Unbearable inflammation had spread up into Holman’ssmall intestine. Doctors informed him that the only way to reduce this pain would be to remove that section of his intestine, leaving him sporting an ostomy bag for the rest of his life.
This 27-year-oldtold LittleThings of learning his diagnosis, “The inflammation in my small intestine was so bad leading up to that surgery that it spread throughout my entire body.
“I was ready to get the permanent ostomy because I was in so much pain leading up to that surgery.
“I just wanted that part of my small intestine removed (which meant that I would have to have the ostomy forever).”
So, he had the surgery, and while it didn’t entirely free him of every ache and pain, it kept him alive and out of the hospital.
At first, Holman felt self-conscious about his new reality. However, over time, his shame dissipated, and he grew grateful for this life-saving devices, and the opportunities they afforded him.
Recently, he posted the above photo on Facebook, commemorating his two-year surgery anniversary, and proudly sporting his ostomy bag for the world to see.
Holman wrote on Facebook, “Today is the two-year anniversary of a surgery that resulted in me living with an ostomy bag for the rest of my life. While this end result certainly wasn’t ideal, this outcome definitely beats the alternative of me being put into the ground sometime over the last two years.
“I used to refrain from bringing up what’s hiding under my shirt because most people don’t even know what I mean when I say ‘ostomy’ and internal plumbing issues are still sometimes (but shouldn’t be) taboo topics.
“If you’re not noticing the ostomy bag on my stomach, you’re probably noticing the PICC line in my arm (as well as my accompanying backpack) that pumps bags full of calories and nutrients into my body daily.
“The stares, remarks, and questions I get from curious folk about both medical devices don’t bother me anymore, but it definitely took a while for me to get comfortable talking about the baggage (get it?!) I have with my body.”
After enduring round after round of surgery, Holman now functions with only seven feet of small intestine, and no colon.
Most adults have 22 feet of small intestine and five feet of colon. Thus, Holman also wears a PICC line and total parenteral nutrition bag on his back, constantly funnelingcalories and nutrients into his bloodstream.
While he wasn’t immediately comfortable sporting these accessories that keep him alive, in time, he’s grown to cherish them with pride.
Of why he posted his recent message online, Holman told The Huffington Post, “I know what its like to feel less than human because of the medical equipment that Ive needed to stay alive and live my life.
I was hoping anybody with any type of disease or using any type of equipment (breathing machines, wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, etc.) would be able to relate to this and not feel any less human just because they need some extra ‘gadgets’ in their lives.
Holman has learned all sorts of lessons from living with this inflammatory bowel disease.
He told LittleThings, “Living with Crohn’s has taught me a few things. One lesson is that some things in life are just out of your control.
“I’ve realized it’s better to just accept things in life as they come. I can’t always control these situations, so it doesn’t really work in my favor to constantly dwell on life’snegativity.
“I’ve also learned how important it is to have a sense of humor. Finding the funny aspects of a bad situation makes that situationso much easier to deal with and overcome.”
As he wrote on Facebook, “Life is so much more worth living when you’re not always ashamed of, or trying to hide, the equipment that’s keeping you alive.”
Holman encourages others to venture out fromhiding, and be as open about their diseases as they feel comfortable.
He told LittleThings, “So many people have reached out to me recently, telling me about how they were self-conscious of the medical equipment in their lives. Now, though, they’ve realized that their equipment enables them to live their lives… and that having to have their medical equipment is nothing for them to be ashamed of.
“I think people also just need to take their diseases one day at a time: some days will be pretty great and some will be pretty awful.
“If youtake things as they come, instead of dwelling on what could happen in the future, you’re better ableto live in the moment.
“I’ve had a majority of my intestines removed, and I’ve been hospitalized over 20 times in the last two years. However,I think that makes me more appreciative of the days I’m not in the hospital or recovering from surgeries even if that means dealing with some medical equipment along the way.”
After battling Crohn’s Disease for so many years, this grateful man refuses to feel any shame around the medical devices keeping him alive, and encourages others to do the same.
What do you think of Holman’s journey with Crohn’s disease?Let us know in the comments!