Cheam woman speaks out about bowel disease
A woman who suffers from bowel disease has spoken out about an operation which changed her life.
Christine Heiden, 65, from Cheam was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome in 1990.
She was regularly hospitalised which led to the eventual diagnosis of an inflammatory bowel disease called Ulcerative Colitis in 2002.
In 2004, Mrs Heiden had a life changing operation to remove her bowel. She was left with an ileostomy and she now has a permanent stoma bag.
Before the operation Mrs Heiden could only get to work or social occasions if she ate and drank nothing. She had such low energy levels that exercise was unthinkable but now she has got her life back.
Mrs Heiden works 25 hours a week at Sainsbury’s, has two children and one granddaughter.
She said: "It’s surprising how many people do have an ileostomy.
"It’s just totally changed my life - before - the urgency of needing the toilet takes over your life.
"It’s an awful way to live; you give up all kinds of foods - curries - all those kind of things, hoping that it will change things.
"Once you get [colitis] you know all about it. You are just so restricted.
"Now I can go anywhere -trains, to the theatre, these are things that would have been out of my reach.
"I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last few years. I’m living the life I should have been living.
"It’s absolutely changed my life."
Mrs Heiden is keen to make more people aware of her condition which is shared by many.
Crohn’s and Colitis UK is a support network for people and families affected by inflammatory bowel disease and it also raises funds for research.
During this Olympic year, they have recruited the support of sportsmen and women with inflammatory bowel disease to offer their tips on how to maintain and return to fitness after a flare-up of their disease.
For more information visit ibdsportandfitness.co.uk or crohnsandcolitis.org.uk.