DONNA Mear used to be afflicted by regular pains so severe that she did not even notice when she went into labour.
That pain is now a thing of the past for, but the 32-year-old is determined that something good will come out of those bad times by offering support to others suffering from the same condition.
For years, Donna, of Weyhill Avenue in North Shields, was forced to make up to 40 visits to the toilet a day due to ulcerative colitis, a condition causing ulcers and open sores.
Her abdominal pain was so severe that she did not even notice her labour cramps prior to the birth of her daughter Evangelina four years ago.
“When I was pregnant with Eva I started getting really heavy bleeding and I could not get out of bed without fainting” said Donna, also a mum to Kieran, nine.
“I suffered for weeks and ended up being rushed into hospital after losing about four or five pints of blood.
“I was in hospital with ulcerative colitus when Eva was born.
“I did not feel the labour pains until her head appeared because the pain from my bowel condition was so severe.”
After taking steroids and other medication for 13 months, Donna underwent surgery to have her colon removed and was fitted with a permanent stoma bag in May last year.
“Since the surgery I have my life back and I can be a mum again,” she said.
“I can do little things like going camping with my son.
“I am gradually getting back into watersports and I have already been climbing and abseiling.”
Donna now wants to help other people dealing with the pain and embarrassment of bowel conditions and has set up a support group called North East Stoma Girls on Facebook.
The group plans to hold meetings and offer advice and help to people living with permanent or temporary stoma bags, as well as raising awareness of Crohn’s disease.
“I want to raise awareness and educate people about the bag,” said Donna, pictured.
“People are scared that the bag will make them ugly and they will not be able to do normal things like go to the beach.”
Donna will also be zipwiring across the Tyne in June to raise funds for the National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, Stomawise, Ostomy Lifestyle and the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund.
To sponsor her, visit www.thegeordieostomates.webeden.co.uk