Victoria Danson thought she was just under a lot of stress.
Then she was told she had 24 hours to live.
The 33-year-old UK mom-of-one had experienced fatigue and “excruciating” abdominal pain but brushed it off as a bit of typical stress.
That is, until she was diagnosed with irritable bowel disease and, later, Crohn’s disease — developing an abscess in her abdomen that resulted in deadly sepsis.
At the hospital, she was given 24 hours to live as the life-threatening infection took over her body, requiring surgery to remove the abscess that she recalled was resting on her ovaries.
“I didn’t even have time to really take in what was going on,” Danson, from Chorley, Lancashire, told NeedToKnow.co.uk. “All I knew was that I was in agony and would do anything to get rid of the pain.”
Doctors removed 18 inches of her bowel, resulting in her receiving an ileostomy bag.
“I was telling them I didn’t want an ileostomy bag, but it was my only option of survival,” she said.
After her 2014 surgery, her formerly “carefree” lifestyle vanished before her eyes, and she feared “being different.”
“Initially, I didn’t think I could carry on living, and I couldn’t see how I was going to be able to continue with my active lifestyle,” she admitted.
She’s been forced to change her diet due to her condition, which has returned to her small bowel this time and will need further surgical intervention.
Avoiding high-fiber foods, drinking green tea, taking supplements and avoiding caffeine have alleviated symptoms.
“I’ve had to do a lot of inner work to accept my condition,” added Danson, who is the mom to a 7-year-old son.
Now, she’s giving back to her newfound community and has even founded her own support group, “Crohn’s and Colitis Support Lancashire,” where she supports hundreds of people.
“I feel like I’ve had to re-build my whole life around my bag – so I want to be able to empower and inspire body confidence,” said Danson, whose body confidence “savior” has been the gym. “There isn’t any emotional support and that’s why I set up this group.”
She hosts workshops at universities to educate others about her “invisible illness” while managing her illness without medication.
“I’m living proof that with the right mindset, you can still achieve your goals no matter what – but always get medical advice if you’re not sure,” she said. “It could save your life.”