Alisha And Ryan Hero

Through Colitis and stoma surgery, we've got each other's backs

Published 14 February 2022

Living with Colitis can feel isolating, but Alisha and Ryan found comfort in each others' experiences. After bonding over this, they later both needed stoma surgery and live together with stomas.

Through the ups and downs, Alisha tells us what it has been like for them to go through this together and have support from someone who understands.

I met Ryan on Instagram in 2014.


Living with Colitis

We were still friends in 2017 when I ended up in hospital. Ryan messaged me asking if I was okay, so I told him I had a problem with my digestive system and didn't digest food very well. He then told me he had Ulcerative Colitis to which I responded the same!

I'd been diagnosed just that year and Ryan had been diagnosed in early 2016, very fatigued and having noticed blood in the toilet.

Since then, we've been best friends, speaking every day. We always spoke about meeting up in person but with him living in Scotland and me in England this was really difficult to organise. We just stayed best buddies online, video calling often.

My Colitis was severe, and I tried lots of different medications including mesalazine, azathioprine, adalimumab and vedolizumab. Nothing worked for me, and I ended up in hospital again for most of 2018 and into 2019 when I had emergency surgery.

I wanted the surgery done, no hesitation, as it meant I could finally get my life back on track.

Ryan supported me throughout this. He sent me flowers, always stuck by what I wanted, and it never changed his opinion of me.

I needed the bag for an improved quality of life. I work as cabin crew full time, and I can't tell you how hard that was during a really horrific flare, especially working in different time zones. I made it work and took medication with me, never letting my Colitis control me, but having surgery enabled me to live fully again.

I decided to go up to Scotland and finally meet Ryan last May.

He had been in a flare since 2020 wasn't well at all. I kept pushing him to call his IBD team and he got admitted to hospital for the third time last October, shortly after I just moved in with him.

He was really struggling at his job as an aircraft engineer, couldn't go out on his bike with friends, lost a considerable amount of weight, and had no appetite. He also just slept all the time which sometimes caused arguments between us. I understood as I went through it myself, but I felt quite lonely and isolated, especially after moving to an area where I didn't have friends and family.

Before Ryan met me he thought the idea of having a stoma was a "living nightmare" and that people would judge him for it.

That changed when he met me as he found that he never judged my bag.

He saw how well I managed mine and he knew then that if I could do it, so could he. Last October, he had keyhole surgery and a stoma formed.

In fact, he started telling me how he wanted a bag because he saw how well I was living. He was the one that requested to speak to the surgeons, and he says he wishes he had done it years ago.

He doesn't care what people think because it's better for him and better for us. We feel like can actually be a couple now and do all the days out and adventures which we couldn't do beforehand as we were constantly trying to find a toilet.

Having someone who understands is an incredible feeling. We're both so lucky.








We've both been in past relationships where we couldn't really talk about our conditions, or we hid it out of embarrassment. In this relationship, it never feels embarrassing as we both understand what it can be like.

I support Ryan more with his stoma because he is still very new to it. I helped him with bag changing and measuring the stoma post-surgery. I also helped with products and things he should be asking the stoma nurse.

I don't need much help physically with my stoma bag because I've had it for 3 years, but Ryan has definitely supported me mentally. He knows exactly how to look after me when I am not feeling well and will come to my hospital appointments with me.

I think it is fate that we found each other.

We're both young, both work in aviation, and now both have stoma bags. We've spent our time together watching each other grow with this disease and we've always had each other's back. Nothing has ever drawn us apart.

Find out more

Check out our information on living with a stoma.


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