Jess Bruno, 31, from London, was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease when she was just a teenager, and had a colostomy last year to attach a pouch to her stoma to collect faeces.
Since then, she has been learning to live with her stoma, and has been getting to grips with it since while sharing her journey on TikTok.
But she had somewhat of a set-back earlier this year when her stoma bag burst in public – an incident she documented online, which went viral garnering 1.3 million views.
“I had taken myself on a ‘get sh*t done’ work trip – how ironic – as work was piling on top of me,” Jess, a content marketing strategist and coach, told http://NeedToKnow.co.uk.
“I booked a weekend stay in Brighton at a beachside hotel with a spa in the basement.
“On a break from all the admin, I took myself on a walk through the shops. As I left [one shop], I felt the most uncomfortable and mortifying of feelings for anyone with a stoma – a wet top.
“I had poo all over my front.
I felt overwhelmed, embarrassed, ashamed.
“Emotionally, I was close to having a panic attack but didn’t have the time too, so just got on with it.”
Jess was alone, panicking, and wet with stool – and quickly scarpered to find a disability-friendly bathroom to sort herself out.
She said: “I had all the spare stoma equipment with me – which consisted of a spare bag, wipes and adhesive spray – I just needed a space to clean up and change.”
She found respite in a Wagamama toilet, but was dismayed to find her fresh stoma bag hadn’t been pre-cut.
Jess said: “The stoma bags I receive come with a tiny opening where it sticks over my ileostomy point, you need to cut this in order to get it on.
“I always pre-cut my bags but I had forgotten this time.”
She managed to clean herself, but had nothing to stick her bag onto herself, so just had to hold it in place until she got back to the hotel.
She said: “Because I was having to hold it in place, it wasn’t sticky anymore, so it was sliding and just kept leaking.
“I thought the only thing left to do was walk 30 minutes back to the hotel.
“On my walk back, I went past a hairdresser, who kindly let me use their bathroom and gave me a small pair of scissors.
“I could’ve cried.
“When I got back I had the shower of my life and changed my bag.”
Jess also shared this story to TikTok, where she can be seen walking along a high street as she speaks to the camera, detailing the mortifying incident.
The post racked up 90,000 likes and hundreds of comments.
Abby said: “Oh bless you, that sounds stressful, what a lovely hairdressers though.”
Danni wrote: “The hot weather makes it sm harder for bags to.stay on cos of sweating! I highly recommend Brava tape strips for things like this happening.” [sic]
Raja commented: “I love ur confidence well done u!! Wow so inspiring.” [sic]
“Well done you are so brave to do that and we need more people like you,” said Kyle.
“I’m yet to have my bag burst but I’m dreading the day, you handled this great!” wrote Hannah.
Jess added: “I didn’t expect it to go that viral but people seem to be really interested in what living with a stoma is like and how I handled the whole bursting situation.
“It’s so weird that millions of people know my bursting story – but I really, really hope it helps normalise it.
“So many people have stomas.
“I think we need to talk about it more and I’m happy to have my name in the mix of people doing so.”