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The life of an ostomate globetrotter

My name is Paulina Kaszuba. I was born in London in 1984 and have since then lived all around the world: Poland, Italy, USA, and Asia. These days, I live in France where I recently became a mother. 

At the age of nine my problems started; when I was 13 years old I had a total colectomy and a year later I got an ostomy bag. For several years, my life was at a standstill while I remained home bound. I spent the majority of my childhood in hospital and I have had a few close calls with death.

My life started to change after when I had an ostomy. It saved my life, protected me from sepsis and my long hospital visits disappeared. Because of an ileostomy my life started to restart again.

When I began to gain strength and recover I decided to make the most of my four passions: travelling, sport, design and psychology. I decided to live my dreams and became a globetrotter. During my hospital stays I developed into a “little psychologist” supporting others. Even my artwork has been decorating the hospital walls. The dream of returning to physical activities and to be able to travel helped me keep a positive outlook on the future. 

My Crohn’s disease is a persistent companion. For many years I have been hospitalized but because of this I have also gained new perspectives on life and become very driven. In my 20s, I became an interior designer and worked in Italy and in New York where I designed for big companies including one which designs for Michael Bloomberg. Thanks to my dreams I have lived in the UK, Italy and Spain. For two years I travelled continuously and I have been to 14 Asian countries. While in India, I became a certified yoga teacher, and in Bali I wrote books. Other countries introduced me to their local cultures where I discovered natural plant medicine and met their shamans.

Recently, in Paris, the biggest dream of them all has come true! I am now the mother of a three month old baby girl named Diana.

After the delivery, I had sepsis. Thankfully, I have a very supportive partner who stands by me and helped me recover. He has been supporting others as a social worker for over 10 years and now also supports me. He is an activist and the best father ever! Currently, we are travelling around Europe with our little baby girl and have founded STOMAnostra – a foundation that creates awareness around ostomy and other autoimmune diseases.

I was keeping my secret for a long time about my ostomy, I never shared that part. My life was amazing. I did not stop myself to enjoy, but I was choosing people with whom I will share that information. In 2015, everything had changed and I overcame my fear of rejection.

I collaborated with the Polish STOMAlife Foundation and I was first to uncover my body in Poland in order to showcase my scars and ostomy. I was going to a psychologist to be ready. I was surprised when I had been on many TV stations, radio and magazines and received acceptance from so many people. Now, I have started my own association and we recently organized a photo session for all the members of the association.

Some of our members have Crohn’s disease, some born with health problems but what we all have in common is an ostomy.

As a hobby I have started blogging about our family where I write about our lives: what it means to live with an ostomy, our travels with Diana and our love for each other. The blog is in French, Polish and English and part of the STOMAnostra initiative. 

Instagram : @paulinakaszuba

Facebook: Paulina Kaszuba /Family Blog STOMAnostra 

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