Carly Lindsay Role Model For all ages
Carly Lindsay is a remarkable young woman. At the age of nine, her childhood life took a dramatic change, which has brought Carly, ten years later, to her second year of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program at Queens University in Kingston.
In early December, 2002, Carly Lindsay entered McMaster University Medical Centre in Hamilton, with severe ulcerative colitis. This painful disease was treated with medications, with limited success, and so after careful consideration, Carly urged her parents to give permission for an operation called an ileostomy, which they did. She said it was the best decision since it gave back her normal life, including swimming and ballet.
To understand her surgery, a brief explanation of the digestive process explains that food moves from the stomach into the small intestine, with the final long, narrow part of it called the ilium. The ilium absorbs the nutrients before the waste is cleared from the body through the large intestine.
In an ileostomy, the surgeon makes a vertical cut in the abdomen to remove the large intestine and appendix. Then a small, circular incision is made in the middle of the abdomen. The ileum is cut, with a small end piece brought through the opening, folded back and sewn in place to create a stoma.
After the stoma heals, it provides a permanent place for the body to eliminate waste into a pouch that fits snugly onto a flange over the stoma. It attaches firmly to the abdomen with adhesive and the pouch can be emptied to dispose of waste. The pouch is replaced as needed and it’s a simple, hygienic system to allow one to live without the pain of intestinal bowel disease or IBD.
Carly remembered an older girl in the next bed who was having her appendix removed. Many supportive people had visited and even used a doll to explain to her what was going to happen in the operation. By contrast, Carly had felt a little left out, with no doll or talks to help her understand the ileostomy.
With that in mind, Carly started soon after her operation to privately mentor children who were considering ostomy surgery at McMaster Children’s Hospital. She has continued to be instrumental in mentoring and encouraging countless children and young people who are living with IBD and ostomies. Carly’s family is supportive and willing to answer questions from other parents and family members.
For the last eight years Carly has attended Camp Horizon at Bragg Creek, Alberta, for campers aged 9 to 18. She made lifelong friendships and gained confidence, such that she has been a leader at the camp and beyond.
Countless radio, TV, newspaper, and web articles and interviews have been made by Carly since she decided “to come out of the bathroom” and make awareness about IBD and ostomies more known. She has made presentations in United States and Canada, as well as received many awards for her work. Among these is the Lieutenant Governor’s Community Volunteer Award for 1550 recorded volunteer hours in this cause.
In her hometown of Waterford, Carly organized an overnight sleepover for all children and youth living with an ostomy. It was held at Waterford museum on Dec. 4 and 5, 2010.
This was the first in Canada and was funded by the United Ostomy Association of Canada. The resulting format of this very successful overnight get together will be used throughout Canada for other opportunities for young people living with IBD and ostomies to find friendships and support.
Carly Lindsay has been a mentor and example to others of the possibilities that can be achieved. She has been a spokesperson for IDEAS, which means Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society. This society promotes life and leadership skills, as well as provides information and funding for IBD research.
While at camp in her teen years, she met Rob Hill who founded No Guts Know Glory Seven Summits Campaign. With his ileostomy at age 23, Hill set the goal to climb the highest mountains of all seven continents. He had completed all but Mt. Everest and invited a group to join him and climb together to the Everest Base Camp.
After extensive training, Carly joined them and succeeded in climbing to the base camp in spring of 2010. My Expositor articles of February 27, 2010, March 27, 2010 and May 22, 2010 tracked and followed Carly’s adventures at Mt. Everest.
Carly has received many honours and scholarships as she pursues her career. Upon graduating from Queens, Carly said she intends “to continue to bring positive influences to those around me, particularly those suffering with IBD or living with an ostomy, through further studies in gastroenterology and enterstomal-wound therapy.”
This past summer she was honoured with two awards at the United Ostomy Association of Canada Bi-annual Conference held in Toronto. Scholarships were given to Carly Lindsay for the regional and national awards of the Renaissance Great Comebacks 2011.
She said that these and the 2012 Abbott IBD Scholarship Program in Support of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada scholarship will help her be able to focus on her studies, rather than take a part-time job while studying in Kingston.
Carly Lindsay’s thoughts on IBD and life are summed up in her statement in a short essay she wrote: “if I can survive the illness, overcome challenges, and live my life to the fullest, other can, too. I always say, ‘be patient with yourself in the down times, accept your ‘new normal’ and never stop believing in yourself.”
Websites to check out include nogutsknowglory.weneedideas.ca and girlgetstrong.com . Contact my e-mail address with IBD in the subject line and I’ll forward your concern or questions to Carly Lindsay.