Nicole Kilgore was diagnosed with Hirschsprung's disease at the age of 20. After exhausting all efforts to treat her symptoms with medication, she was referred to a colorectal surgeon who thought her symptoms were due to a redundant colon. When a partial colectomy didn’t address her problems, she was referred to a specialist who diagnosed her with Hirschsprung's and pelvic floor disorder, and performed a complete colectomy. When her symptoms still didn’t resolve, an ileostomy was her only option.
"I know I’m gonna be fine. And I’ll keep trying to help other people get on with their lives, too."
In September 2013, Nicole had ileostomy surgery. However, after a few months, her intestines twisted and she had to have emergency surgery to move her ileostomy from her right to her left side. It left an incision that went down the center of her stomach to her bikini line. For a young woman just barely into her twenties, the surgery took a physical, mental and emotional toll.
At the same time, she found a way to maintain straight As a fulltime college student in the nursing program at Delta College. Because of her condition and her journey to find solutions, she wants to be an ostomy nurse. In less than six weeks, Nicole was in surgery again, this time to clear blockages caused by adhesions at her incision site. And within another month, her ileostomy prolapsed, sending her back into emergency surgery. And before another 30 days passed, Nicole was in surgery once more to move the ileostomy back to its original side. In total, Nicole had seven major surgeries in two years.
Today, Nicole works part-time as a nanny for three children. She also has a YouTube channel called "Beauty and the Bag" where she posts videos about her experiences, surgeries, helpful tips for people who have ostomies and product demos. With the help of family and friends, she has kept a positive attitude about life and her future. “I didn’t expect my life would take this kind of turn,” says Nicole, “but it did. With the support of my mom, my friends and a great team of doctors and nurses, I know I’m gonna be fine. And I’ll keep trying to help other people get on with their lives, too.”