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A BRAVE Cairnhill mum has backed a national campaign on the debilitating condition that has changed her life.
Kelly Gallacher was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which causes the immune system to attack the digestive system and stops the body absorbing fats and minerals from food, five years ago.
The 28-year-old entered a period of remission last year but following the birth of daughter Lucia she had to undergo a life-saving surgery to remove her large bowel, leaving her with a permanent ileostomy bag and having to take medication and injections for the rest of her life.
But her baby has acted as her inspiration to get on with her life and Kelly has joined the #Getyourbellyout campaign to highlight inflammatory bowel disease.
Kelly told the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser: “Back in April 2010, after months of pain and other issues, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at Monklands Hospital.
“Ever since I have been controlling the disease with various different medications: lots of steroids, maintenance drugs and for the past year Humira home injections and a dangerous cancer medication called azathioprine.
“For the past year, all through my pregnancy with Lucia and until she was eight weeks old, I was in remission. My Crohn’s symptoms disappeared and I hadn’t felt so good in years.
“But I was warned by my consultant to expect a massive flare after I gave birth, due to the influx of hormones.
“I got to eight weeks post partum and thought I’d gotten lucky and missed the flare. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
“Last month I was rushed to hospital after I had been in agony and ignored it for five days.
“I was taken for an MRI scan, where it was discovered that 10cm of my large bowel was completely blocked.
“The only thing that would save my life was to remove my large bowel completely, a procedure called a total colectomy, and I was left with a permanent ileostomy bag.”
Kelly spent seven days in high dependency at Wishaw General Hospital, followed by a further five on a general ward.
She said: “I’m still in a fair bit of pain with it at the moment but I have complete faith that this is going to change my life for the better.
“I will finally be able to be the mum Lucia deserves and I’m going to get my life back.
“I wouldn’t have been able to get through this difficult time without my boyfriend Ryan and my amazing family. They have been so supportive and loving so I am very lucky.
“I am living with my mum at the moment and she has been a big help.
“Lucia is doing really well and loving all of the attention she’s getting.”
Kelly also has to live with a stoma – a surgically created opening on the abdomen which allows stool or urine to exit the body – but came up with a novel way of turning the negative into a positive as she refuses to shy away from her condition.
She said: “I named my stoma Apollo after the Greek god of healing and light.
“I am not ashamed or embarrassed by my bag and was keen to back the #Getyourbellyout campaign.
“There isn’t the stigma there used to be with Crohn’s disease but there still isn’t the awareness there should be.
“Events like World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Day also help people to stand up, take action and raise awareness.
“I have Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease does not have me.”

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