As we get closer to 2022 and the upcoming application period for the 180 Medical College Scholarship Program, we continue to honor each of our 2021 scholarship recipients on our blog. So far, we’ve introduced Linden and Logan. Today, meet Lauren, a 2021 180 Medical ostomy scholarship recipient.
Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week begins on December 1st, so it’s a great time to share Lauren’s story to help bring more awareness to the often invisible but severe impacts of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, as many as 1.6 million Americans may be living with a form of IBD.
Meet Lauren, 2021 Ostomy Scholarship Recipient
Lauren was like any other fun-loving, hard-working teenage girl in 2020. She had just graduated high school with honors for maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She was active in sports like volleyball and basketball while also participating in extracurricular activities such as Native American Club, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions, and the National Honor Society throughout high school.
Next, she was heading to college at the University of Oklahoma. But unusual symptoms began to hit her out of nowhere in the middle of her first semester. Common symptoms of ulcerative colitis may include loss of appetite or nausea, mild to severe fatigue, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding.
Lauren’s symptoms became more severe over a short period of time. Of course, this began to impact her quality of life as well as her time in college.
A Diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis Derails Her College Dreams
By October, Lauren was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. In just a few more months, she had to move back home with her parents. “I left my roommate, left my dorm, left everything behind in Norman, Oklahoma. I didn’t really have a choice.”
She dealt with multiple hospitalizations and tried a few prescription medications that didn’t end up working for her. The last resort would be to undergo ileostomy surgery and have her colon removed.
Lauren says, “I wanted to avoid that at all costs because, you know, who wants to have an ileostomy? But that’s what ended up happening to me.” All of her goals at college had to be put on hold.
Life with an Ostomy Leads Lauren to Her Future Career
Lauren’s ostomy surgery happened in March of 2021. While it was something she had dreaded, she says that her ileostomy has given much of her quality of life back. “I could hang out with friends, get back to school, and do my homework.”
Unfortunately, Lauren’s ulcerative colitis symptoms are still not fully under control. She’s been undergoing blood transfusions and may be facing J-pouch surgery next. This surgery involves using the end of the small intestine to create an internal pouch. A J-pouch helps patients go back to life without an ostomy. After the final stages of J-pouch surgery, many patients are able to pass waste through the anus normally.
While this has definitely been a difficult journey for Lauren, it also helped solidify her passion for nursing.
“The really good thing that has come out of all this health madness is that I know I want to be a nurse,” she says. In fact, she plans to become a WOCN (Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurse) that specializes in ostomy care. Her positive experience with her own ostomy nurses pushed her in the right direction.
What’s Next for Lauren?
As Lauren continues to heal and move forward, she is attending Tulsa Community College this fall. This is a big step toward her first goal of becoming a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). She’ll be gaining plenty of experience while continuing to work toward her goal of becoming a registered ostomy nurse.
At 180 Medical, we specialize in providing catheters and ostomy supplies, so ostomy nurses are close to our hearts here. We see firsthand how much of a positive impact they make on their patients’ lives.
We’re so proud to be able to help Lauren with reaching her goals through the 180 Medical College Scholarship. You can find out more about this and other scholarship opportunities at www.180medical.com/scholarships.