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#ShareYourStory - Nathan

Nathan is 32 and lives with an Ileostomy. He had emergency surgery in 2007, at the age of 17.


“My life was pretty normal before surgery”

Before stoma surgery, Nathan was a little overweight, incredibly shy, and just tried to ‘fit in’ – but he generally lived a normal life. He started noticing blood when we would go to the toilet but didn’t experience any pain – until 2007 when everything happened quite suddenly. The illness was quite short lived, and the surgery was an emergency, so in that respect, the painful part wasn’t pro-longed like it is for many others.

“Being a typical 17-year-old, I thought I was untouchable”

Nathan did the right thing and made an appointment with the doctor because he started to bleed from his bum , despite thinking he was untouchable and that it was probably just piles. He was checked over, told it was likely a stomach bug and was given tablets to help with it – but they never did! The bleeding worsened, he was becoming very weak and couldn’t keep anything down. Nathan went into hospital for a week to rehydrate and be pumped with antibiotics. Whilst in hospital, he had an X-ray on his colon but was told everything seemed okay and was sent home.

Though, it wasn’t okay and 4 days later everything was about to change.  Nathan had worsened after catching C-Diff during the first week he spent in, mixed with the tablets he was on, and ultimately found out that he did in fact have UC and his colon was about to explode. Another X-ray revealed the colon wall was so thin, he had 2 hours before it would’ve ruptured and taken his life. To this day, the hospital and doctor are still shocked Nathan survived.

“…realising I was no longer the same boy I was before surgery”

For 7-10 days after surgery, Nathan was in a high dependency unit, which he doesn’t remember much of – just that he was nil by mouth and had so many tubes and wires coming from him. Returning to the ward was also tough; he was realising he needed to adjust to his new body and accept he wasn’t the same boy he was before. Gaining weight was very difficult for Nathan during recovery – he’d gone from 16 stone down to 11 during the few weeks of being ill – but after having a feeding tube put in and having the 4000 calories being pumped into him, gaining weight started to bring a tiny bit of normality back. Nathan spent a month in hospital, navigating having a bag and building strength back up to walk again – the hard part, though, was getting his head around it all.

“The messages I get from people really are the reason I’m still here!”

The illness was sudden, and everything happened so fast, so it took a long time to come to terms with what had happened. For a long time, Nathan hated his stoma. He cried a lot and would ask himself ‘Why did this happen to me?’, because of the extreme mental impact of having a stoma. Fast forward to the person I am now, and he couldn’t imagine life without it. Nathan prides himself of being so open and honest because it’s something he felt so alone with in the beginning – which is why he is such an advocate for it on his social media.

“Stoma care products have progressed so much since 2007”

Stoma products can be hit and miss, and you do have to test a few to find a bag you’re comfortable with. Every bag and stoma product works differently for different people, so it really is trial and error. Nathan thinks that the biggest change in stoma products has been the colour choice. Back when Nathan had surgery, it was only skin colour bags with weird materials that went bobbly – you could really tell they were medical by the look and feel! This was to the point that Nathan would still feel like he was ill wearing one.

“All I can say to Salts is THANKYOU "

Nathan currently uses the Confidence BE range in black and says everything about the bag makes him feel secure.

“The flange is great; it sticks amazingly, and the wafer is thicker on the inside and thinner towards the edges.  Then we get to the material - wow!  No more bobbly material.  I wear it in black and it’s almost silky.  The shape of the product is perfect.  The mechanism of emptying the bag is quick and easy and I love how it is all tucked away.  The little window is great to see the stoma when you’re putting the bag on but it’s great because it doesn’t flap open, and you don’t have to see the stoma or waste through the day.  At the end of the day, I’m carrying round a bag a waste attached to me - I don’t need to see it!  The bag instead kind of makes me feel sexy!  I don’t feel ashamed to show it!”

Nathans Mantra:

“My best advice is to talk about it. Talking is power. I pride myself on breaking the stigma and that may not be for everyone but if you have a question, ask! The community is fantastic, and we all stick together. You are stronger than you think and having a stoma bag just makes you that bit stronger! You’ve got this!”


We'd like to say a big Thank You to Nathan for sharing his inspiring story with us! 

If you would like to #ShareYourStory and feature on our blog, you can do so here:


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