My UC diagnosis days after my daughter arrived

Phil’s life as a police officer managing with an ileostomy at the age of 23

During September 2007, my wife Blaire and I were very excited as we were expecting our first child. We had recently moved to a new house and I had moved to a different office with my job as a Police Officer.

At that time, I started to experience problems with my bowels and started to pass blood and was having a lot of trips to the toilet. I was going about ten times a day. I had previously had similar symptoms but had tests and they came back clear so was I undiagnosed.

Four days before our daughter was born I visited the doctor who said that I likely had ulcerative colitis and prescribed me steroids. He advised me to take the course and see if my symptoms improved.

On the day my daughter was born I was running back and forth to the toilet continually whilst my wife was in labour. Not ideal but we made it and welcomed a gorgeous daughter.

I persisted with the steroids but wasn’t having much improvement. On the day I was to take my wife and daughter home I went to the maternity ward and when the midwife saw me she told me to go to a and e, which I did.

Once I got there I was taken almost immediately for a colonoscopy and was diagnosed with very serious ulcerative colitis and was admitted to hospital. Over the next few days I was pumped full of a large variety of drugs and nothing seemed to work. At that point I was told by the consultant that I may need to have an ileostomy.

‘Ileostomy’? I’d never even heard of one but there was nothing I could do and a few days later I ended up having to have surgery. I was only given a few hours’ notice prior to going to theatre so didn’t really have time to process what was going to change for me. I ended up having the surgery and spent a further week in hospital.

During all this I missed taking my daughter home and my partner had to cope with a new baby and me being sick. Once I was home I had a long recovery, and had to have further surgery a couple of months later when my rectum was removed. I therefore have my stoma for life. A lot to take on at 23.

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to return to work as a frontline police officer, however following a period of office duties I had a special body armour made for me and returned to work. I have since returned to playing football, mountain biking and am trying to exercise as much as I can now. I did the Loch Ness Etape which is a 65 mile cycle around Loch Ness on 23 April.

This year (2017) marks 10 years since I had my ileostomy and I am now used to having my stoma and want to be a positive role model for young people who have to face what I went through. I want them to realise that having an ileostomy is not a bad thing and does not prevent you from doing what you want to do.