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There is life after illness, just look at me - Keith shares his story

Keith shares his Ulcerative Colitis story and how his positive attitude has got him where he is today.

Keith

Hi, my name is Keith Thomas and I am 53 years young.

I was diagnosed in 2008 with Ulcerative Colitis after many years of not knowing what was wrong with me. Ulcerative Colitis is a condition where the colon and rectum become inflamed, causing small ulcers to develop on the colon’s lining.

After years of trying to control my condition with up to 20 tablets a day I was rushed into hospital one evening in May 2012. I spent 10 days in hospital whilst doctors tried to stop my bowel from perforating - thankfully it never perforated, but I was told there was no saving my bowel and I needed an ileostomy.

I was pencilled in for my ileostomy operation on 22nd June 2012, I will always remember that date as that was the day I got my life back!

I was given the option to have a J-pouch. A J-pouch is an internal pouch formed from small intestine, this pouch then provides a storage place for stool in the absence of the large intestine. The anal sphincter muscles assist in holding in the stool, then several times a day, stool is passed through the anus in the normal way.

An ileostomy or a J-pouch? … It was a big decision and I’d never met anyone with a J-pouch before. I got in touch with people who had a J-pouch and discussed the operation, their diets and their general quality of life. After much deliberation I decided the ileostomy was better for me. In my mind, it was "one operation, one recovery" and that's how it has been.

My operation took ten hours, I was discharged within two days and I returned to work in just six weeks!

After returning to work I decided the office job wasn’t for me, I felt well enough to return to my old job, driving a bus. That’s my real passion!

So, I applied to First Bus in Swansea to be a service bus driver, and within a couple of weeks I had the great news that I got the job. That was nearly two years ago! I work a 40 hour week and I am never late to work, and more importantly, I am never off work sick!

I believe my positive attitude has got me where I am today. My message to everyone reading this is “There is life after illness, just look at me.”