A woman with ulcerative colitis who felt ‘suicidal’ after she was fitted with a stoma is now campaigning to help others with invisible disabilities.
Jessica Logan, 28, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, has suffered with bowel issues since childhood but experienced a flare up in 2017 that became so severe she struggled to leave the house without suffering what she describes as ‘poocidents’.
She underwent a string of procedures, including being fitted with a stoma and then a an operation known as a j-pouch surgery, which is used to treat ulcerative colitis (UC).
At times her illness left Jessica struggling with her mental health but she has now overcome the obstacles and dedicates her time to helping others with invisible disabilities.
Jessica Logan, 28, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, suffered with bowel issues from a young age, starting off with IBS, while also struggling with her body image. Now Jessica has overcome her demons and now competes in pageants in a bid to show beauty comes in all forms – coming second in the role model competition at this year’s Royal International Miss UK (pictured)
Jessica has undergone a number of surgeries in recent years. Pictured, Jessica in hospital
Pictured, Jessica feeling body confident in a bikini on stage. Right, in a campaign to raise awareness of invisible illnesses
Despite suffering with IDB and still getting used to her stoma, Jessica was still able to go ahead with her wedding. Pictured with mother Ruth, 56 and father Kevin, 60, to now husband Dale, 31
The 28 year old said coming to terms with her stoma was one of the hardest mental health battles she has ever had to fight and said she felt suicidal for the first six months
Jessica’s life changed dramatically when her mother Ruth Wright, now 56, was diagnosed with lymphoma at the beginning of 2017.
By April, at the age of 24, the diagnosis had begun to affect Jessica’s mental and physical wellbeing, which in turn impacted her work and social life.
At the same time her bowel condition, which was unaware of at the time, flared up so much she was unable to leave the house without having accidents, which she calls ‘poocidents’.
Already struggling with low-esteem and hating her body, she said the accidents were making her hate herself even more and she felt guilty for letting people down.
Knowing something was not right, she went to the doctors to get herself checked over.
‘I had IBS from a child but suffered with chronic constipation so this was a complete change in my bowel habits,’ she said.
Jessica had suffered with IBS as a child but her condition became more severe in 2017 after her mother Ruth was diagnosed with lymphoma. The inspirational woman pictured in hospital during her flare up
Her condition, which was unaware of at the time, flared up so much she was unable to leave the house without having accidents – which she calls ‘poocidents’. Pictured in hospital after her health drastically deteriorated
After some tests, her results came back and showed her calprotectin reading was 2046, with normal readings being around 50.
Doctors referred her to specialists and while she waited for her consultation her symptoms worsened – going to the toilet up to 30 times a day without passing faeces, just blood and mucus.
Jessica, pictured during lockdown, said the accidents were making her hate herself even more and she felt guilty for letting people down
Her poocidents had become so severe they would even happen when she adjusted her position on the sofa.
She said: ‘It looked like a massacre and the pain was that unbearable I would burst into tears wanting it to stop.’
Throughout the experience she gained three stone, despite being unable to eat, caused by a build up of faeces inside her and her self-esteem began to plummet even more.
At points in her younger years, her self-esteem was so low, due to the bullying she experienced, she would secretly weigh herself every day and barely eat – even weighing out 30g of cereal each morning.
She said: ‘I struggled to accept my body and never saw myself as beautiful. It caused me to hate who I was and I never felt like I was good enough.’
And the obsession with her weight continued into her early adult life, trying out several fad diets and becoming addicted to the gym.
So obsessed with her weight, she even had a fat treatment done when she was between a size eight and size ten.
When she was eventually admitted to hospital in July 2017, she was diagnosed with acute ulcerative colitis.
After being bullied, Jessica’s self-esteem was so low that she would secretly weigh herself every day and barely eat – even weighing out 30g of cereal each morning
She said she struggled to accept her body and never saw herself as beautiful in her younger years and it has taken a long time for her to accept who she is
The condition caused considerable damage to her colon and rectum and she was treated as an urgent case.
Within a week of being admitted she was rushed into surgery to have an emergency stoma fitted because she was so close to death.
‘I was in complete shock. I went into hospital thinking I’d just get some medication, never did I imagine life changing surgery,’ she said.
‘I had no time to process my diagnosis let alone living with a stoma.’
The obsession with her weight continued into her early adult life, trying out several fad diets, becoming addicted to the gym and even getting a fat treatment despite being between a size eight and a size ten
The condition caused considerable damage to her colon and rectum and she was treated as an urgent case – having a stoma, pictured, fitted to save her life
Jessica had several surgeries to help with her IBD and eventually had her stoma removed and replaced with j-pouch in 2018, which is commonly used with ulcerative colitis patients
She said she was ‘mortified’ the first time she saw it: ‘I felt disgusting and questioned if Dale [her husband] would still find me attractive.’
After the surgery she went back to her normal life and started finishing off the last few bits of wedding planning she had left and organising their house move.
But the harmony did not last long – she was in and out of hospital several times with bowel obstructions, leading to another emergency surgery three weeks later.
Doctors discovered her bowel had twisted, causing the the stomach pain and making her stoma pass blood.
And, despite having more surgery to correct the problem, she wasn’t out of the woods yet, with her wound bursting open on the day of discharge due to sepsis.
She said: ‘At that point in time I wanted my life to be over, as I couldn’t see any hope in things improving.’
The inspiring woman, pictured during lockdown, is now using her experiences for good, trying to raise awareness of hidden illnesses and put a stop to discrimination
Off the back of her own experiences and battles with illnesses, Jessica created a set of images to raise awareness that not all illnesses and visible in a bid to ‘stop discrimination’
After her bowel obstructions continued, she had more surgery in 2018 – this time to have a j-pouch fitted, commonly used with ulcerative colitis patients.
Thanks to the surgery she was finally able to say goodbye to the stoma which she said left her suicidal for the first six months.
‘Coming to terms with my stoma was one of my hardest mental fights but then I started to see the positives it gave.
What is ulcerative colitis?
A type of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis is a long-term condition which causes the colon and rectum to become inflammed.
Small ulcers can develop on the colon’s lining and can bleed and produce pus.
Common symptoms include recurring diarrhoea, stomach pain and the need to empty your bowels frequently.
The condition affected around one in every 420 people in the UK and it can develop at any age.
For most people the symptoms are relieved by medication but in more severe cases surgery may be an option.
‘I finally saw that it didn’t change me, it made me. I have became a stronger person with everything I have been through and I’m proud of me.’
As well as her bowel issues, Jessica’s physical health is impacted daily by chronic fatigue syndrome, which was diagnosed as a result of her trauma.
Despite the odds, Jessica has overcome her demons and now competes in pageants in a bid to show beauty comes in all forms – coming second in the role model competition at the Royal International Miss UK and third in her division.
Off the back of her experiences, and determined to make a difference after having to give up her career as a mortgage learning and development consultant, she has made it her mission to create projects which educate people about invisible disabilities such as hers.
‘These illnesses and disabilities drain us mentally as well as physically, so it makes it hard to deal with other people’s judgements,’ she said.
‘Especially in public when we are trying to live our lives.’
To begin with, Jessica created a powerful image which depicted the huge number of hidden disabilities that are not evident on the surface.
She then branched out into making merchandise and posters to educate people, with all the profits she makes being donated to charity.
The inspiring woman has raised more than £2,200 since June 2019 through charity events and even set up photoshoots to help empower people who deal with negativity to show them they are good enough.
‘This is something I created as photoshoots helped me love myself after surgery and my photos also helped others,’ she said.
‘I feel its so important to turn our experiences into positivity and try to help people when we can. I hope my ideas successfully reduce or even end discrimination.’