My name is Saleem Juma and I’m a 23 year old Model/Actor/Writer/Budding Novelist/Real Estate Broker/College Student/Blogger/Politician (in this day and age you’ve got to be multi-talented to even survive)! I was first diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at the age of 16 (I had symptoms all through when I was 14 however, I was simply afraid to tell anyone about this “taboo” disease). At 16 I had left home for 6 months to go to Military School to not only help me get back on the straight and narrow (I was unfortunately drawn to trouble as a teenager), but to help me graduate from high school early. As I went through the academies rigorous training, my disease unfortunately got worse and worse, after graduating and coming back to regular high school I finally had the courage to tell my father what was happening to me (not easy to tell your old man that you’re bleeding out of your arse). After a few years of trying every treatment available (including Prednisone and Biologicals, the side effects were killer for anyone who’s ever had to take those long term; massive weight gain, moon face, facial bloating, anger and irritation, insomnia, etc.), I finally understood that in order to even have a semblance of a normal life I was going to need Ostomy surgery.
I was shitting over 25 times a day at the height of my Colitis and literally ALWAYS IN PAIN. I was drinking and partying all the time, running with an extremely rough crowd, getting into brawls over small reasons; all in an effort to forget my sickness. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going away and I started researching surgical treatment options. At first I debated trying the J-Pouch, many people had success with it, however many people had also NOT had success with it. I’m not afraid to take calculated risks but my future life and health was not a risk I was willing to take; I stuck with having the bag, I wasn’t forced to choose this (though some could say circumstances drove me to it) BUT I WANTED IT! I remember reading Jessica Grossman’s blog at the time (a well-known Ostomate Model in Canada) and I figured “Hell, if she could do it, I could do it”, I was already modeling at the time anyway and decided that I wanted to become a bright shining light of inspiration for those who felt that they were unattractive and had to hide their bags.
I remember when I woke up in the hospital with the bag for the first time after an 18-hour surgery (props to my surgeon Dr. Martin Hermann, it cannot have been easy to even stay awake that long let alone be in surgery). It was actually the happiest day of my life, I had my birthday at home while I was recovering from surgery; for the first time since I was 14 years old I was not in pain, it was an amazing feeling. I managed to find a pretty solid system that has only given me leaks twice over the 3 years that I’ve had my ostomy. I also got a vertically placed Stealth Belt that allowed me to feel pretty comfortable walking around and doing normal activity; I used my horizontal Stealth Belt for heavy gym lifting and activity, I could finally do as I wished.
Now I won’t say life was perfect, I mean I was 19 and had a poop bag attached to my stomach; that’s not easy for anyone right? Of course I thought women wouldn’t find me attractive, of course I thought I could never swim again and my life would never be the same. It didn’t help that I was diagnosed with extreme social anxiety and depression a year later. However, I refused to let anything get in my way of having a dope life. That summer I started throwing house parties with my buddy DJ Hobbit (who at the time I had named DJ Vector) and one of my modeling buddies became our head of security (we’ll call him Movie Star). Once we became well known we eventually were throwing parties with up to 2,000 PEOPLE ATTENDING, it was insanity; totally nuts! I used our newfound reputation to leverage getting into running Nightclubs/Raves and Yacht Parties at 21, we grew our organization to 150 people, including a team of models, security team called The Brotherhood, a public relations guy, tech guys, videographers and photographers, fire spinners etc. During this time, I made great money, dated incredibly hot girls and had a pretty fucking awesome life in general. I did it all to prove that despite having a disability and social anxiety/depression (which to this day nobody really believes I have), you can STILL HAVE A DOPE, AWESOME LIFE!
I eventually left my company and dissolved it because I tired of the lifestyle, I’m back in college now and studying hard! I hold an active Real Estate License and am really focused on not only this blog but my Modeling and Acting Career (Links to my work posted below), I also am writing a book on “Improving Your Social Skills and Having a Dope Life While Having a Disability/Anxiety/Depression”, as well as serving on my hometown’s Planning Policy Commission and as Vice-President of my College’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty.
I started this blog to serve as an Idea, A Vision and an Inspirational Spark to those who suffer from the same condition as me (as well as any Chronic Illness and Pain/Body Change that has marked you different). I was invisible in high school, none of my peers or teachers gave two shits about me or ever bothered to find out why I was the way that I was (skipping class all the time and getting into trouble), if I’d had a mentor back then things could have been different; but somehow God has helped me find my own way and I want to be a mentor to all those that are suffering like I was and feeling alone. Even today I kick ass at getting great grades, having awesome friends that are there for me 100%, getting all kinds of good modeling gigs, going to dope parties (where just last week the new Party Address King called me “The OG of WA Parties”) and still dating super amazing babes that find me attractive for me (I’m very straightforward and direct about having my bag).
I have a Vision where people with Anxiety/Depression/Disabilities are no longer looked at as “different”, I want to destroy the cultural taboos we have on certain diseases. Maybe I don’t have the brain power to cure things like Chron’s Disease or fixing our fragile minds (though that’s not to say I won’t bloody try!), but I CAN show people that it’s not even just a normal life you can live having Anxiety/Depression/Disabilities; it’s actually a DOPE life and you can have SWAG! Ostomy Bag Swag that is ;), Fortis Et Cauteriatam Habentium Animas Cicatrices!