Top Tips for Staying Body Positive When You Have Crohn’s

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Top Tips for Staying Body Positive When You Have Crohn’s

One woman shares her story of how she viewed her body after Crohn’s surgery.

When you look at photos of Krystal Miller, the self-described “bag lady” — the Kardashian-style bathroom poses, the lingerie selfies spotlighting her tattoos, the booty shots — you might think that this Australian mama with Crohn’s disease has arrived at the pinnacle of body positivity. That is only partly true.

“There are moments in life when I’m like, I’ve got this, everything [expletive] rocks!” But, Miller admits, acceptance comes and goes. “There are times when you have so much hate and internal agony,” she says.

Miller has had Crohn’s since she was a teenager. At 22, when medications could no longer control the disease, she had ileostomy surgery to remove most of her bowel and was left with a stoma, an opening in the abdomen. She now uses a pouch, a bag that is worn outside the body, to collect her waste.

Coming to terms with her pouch, the stoma, surgical scars, and her changed body was a slow process. Before her first surgery, Miller was in such agony because of the severity of her disease that she was thrilled to have her life back.

“I felt weirdly disconnected but completely okay with the pouch,” she says.

In fact, some people have a significant improvement in their body image after surgery, largely because they feel so much better, says Sharon Jedel, PsyD, an assistant professor at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

But that’s not always the case. According to a literature review Dr. Jedel coauthored, published in the April 2015 issue of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, one study found that 73 percent of patients with Crohn’s report some body image concerns.

For Miller, acceptance would come and go. When a boyfriend broke up with her because he couldn’t deal with the pouch, it sent her into a self-loathing tailspin. “I thought no one would ever love or want me with this disgusting thing hanging off me,” she says. But she slowly regained her self-confidence.

Her body image took another hit after her second surgery, when she was 28. She was in a long-term relationship and had a sixth-month-old baby. She needed to repair her bowel, which had perforated during her pregnancy, and her Crohn’s had flared.

“I hated that my own body had almost taken me away from my family, I hated the new scars. The scars remind you of the horrible path you have been on,” she says.

It was a process coming to accept her scars, one that was helped by the gorgeous tattoos she got to camouflage them.

Read on: Top Tips for Staying Body Positive When You Have Crohn’s | Everyday Health

Read on: Top Tips for Staying Body Positive When You Have Crohn’s | Everyday Health

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