Crohnie Clothing that transforms the hospital wardrobe!

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I’m Jen, a 24 year old Crohnie (I have Crohn’s Disease) from Glasgow, in Scotland, who tends to make life difficult for their care team! I’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s for 11 years and I’ve always been someone with a lot of complications like recurrent abscesses that require surgery every 6 months or so, I never found a biological treatment which worked, and I’ve had sepsis, so I now have an ileostomy and I am missing my large intestines, appendix and rectum. I also had a proctectomy last year, which was the surgery where my rectum and leftover large intestines were removed to make my ileostomy permanent. That didn’t exactly go to plan as expected! One morning I woke up about 10 days after surgery and both my abdominal wound and rectal wound completely opened. This led to the huge task of trying to get my wounds to heal over a 6 month period and luckily it all went to plan apart from my rectal wound healing apart from 2 holes which are between 3 and 4 centimetres deep and link up to a collection of fluid that is in the space my rectum and intestines used to be and that’s called pilonidal disease.

I’m now in the process of getting my pilonidal disease (hopefully) cured! I’ve just had surgery to do a karydakis flap procedure and that basically was the human equivalent of coring an apple! They removed the tunnels and fluid alongside some more tissue around the area to get clean margins to hopefully avoid it happening again then stretched the skin over and moved my original scar about 2 centimetres over and stitched it back up.

All of this basically means that my hospital is my second home and I’m basically a bit of furniture there at this point. I basically now have a job as a blogger and I share my story online to try and raise as much awareness as possible for chronic and invisible illnesses. It was through my social media and sharing my story that I first heard of INGA Wellbeing as I had been talking about a spine and pelvic MRI I was needing to have done and co-founder Claire sent me a message to see if I would be interested in trying out their clothes, which are not only really beautiful to wear everyday, but also double as hospital wear in place of the traditional gown you normally are provided! They could not be more up my street, I am so passionate about having more control over your care and this is the perfect way for me to feel more comfortable and in control in difficult situations like during an MRI!

The first item of clothing I received from INGA was the Women’s Long Sleeve Top in Navy and straight away I loved it and wore it the next day to uni! I don’t know how to describe how soft the material is other than to say it’s by far the comfiest item of clothing I own. I am obsessed with it! Already it has been with me to uni, to a pre op assessment and an MRI so I of course have had a number of comments from nurses and doctors saying what they think of the top and all of them have been incredibly supportive! The best quote I received from one of the MRI nurses who said that they wished that INGA would make their scrubs! I won’t lie even one of the nurses tried the top on to see the difference between that and an NHS gown and even she said the difference she felt was huge, as she felt she was much more covered up and that there definitely seemed more dignity involved than with a normal gown which “flaps in the wind”! I am so sorry to her if she’s reading because I forgot her name, but you were so lovely and open minded, thank you for a great experience!

The idea of an item of clothing that is functional but also stylish is something there has been a huge gap in the market, especially when it comes to adaptable clothing that is accessible with whatever lines, ports, stomas or wounds that you have. I had a check-up with my surgeon where I wore my INGA Wellbeing top and part of the exam involved me removing my ostomy bag. Due to the sides of the top having poppers I was able to completely lift the front part of the top up while remaining modest and I didn’t have the worry of my top falling onto my exposed ostomy because it was completely flipped up, not just ruffled like a normal top. It also came in so handy during the following blood test as I could simply un-pop the poppers on the sleeve to get my blood test which the phlebotomist loved! She said it’s often an irritating experience for the patient when people have to roll up their sleeves and crease their top or pop their arm out of a tight-fitting top, as the sleeve won’t go up high enough and this would save any problems so she wishes all tops would have easy access poppers!

The second item of clothing I received just the other day, right after the surgery which has been a lifesaver! I received the Women’s Back Opening Dress also in navy and it is my new favourite item of clothing, especially because I need dressing changes every day, and there’s nothing I hate more than having to get my bum out for people! I love that the dress is so discreet I don’t have to feel like I’m completely exposed but the nurse can get a proper, unobstructed look! As expected trousers aren’t exactly the most comfortable things to wear right now so I tend to spend most of my time just wearing t shirts and pants but that really doesn’t work when you have visitors! I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, but I also don’t want to be in pain because of what I’m wearing so my INGA Wellbeing dress has been my outfit of choice for every visitor I’ve had! I’ve even been able to have the back of the dress open so I can sit on an ice pack but no one had any idea except myself and my mum!

I really am so fortunate to have been able to get my own INGA clothing because I will never attend another in-patient stay or have a procedure done without them! I’m already booked in for a sedated endoscopy in the next few months, so you can bet I’ll be wearing my dress to that! I’ve also got at least another month of hospital visits and dressing changes with my district nurse so I’m extremely grateful to not have to ruin any of my other clothing by getting touched by blood during wound dressings or output from ostomy changes while lying down (I’m not allowed to sit up for 3 weeks!) and regular clothes just get in the way for me. I’ve been ill for the last 11 years and honestly, I feel like the whole process of being a patient will be a lot easier from now on, now that I have the INGA Wellbeing clothing it just takes the worry out of planning outfits for in hospital or at home because they’re just waiting to be packed up! I can’t wait to expand my collection now and get the dress and top in pink too, and any upcoming colours that come out!

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