An Interview With… Danny Callaghan AKA DC vs UC

Happy new year! I hope everyone reading had a lovely Christmas and Covid didn’t spoil too many plans! I had a fab time with the boys and other family members – as my Aunty and Uncle had come down with Covid we also saw the return of the video chat family quizzes which were a lot of fun and meant we could all still keep in touch and enjoy each other’s company, despite some of us being in isolation.

New year often brings with it a lot of resolutions – and many of those are about eating healthier and exercising more. I tend not to make them as I think goals can be set whenever you want them to be and whenever you feel ready to make a change. However, I am now 6 months post-surgery which means I am beginning to exercise more regularly again and feeling good about it! Many people following abdominal and ostomy surgeries struggle to know how to get back into exercise safely, and the person I am interviewing today has decided to use his experience and knowledge to help those people.

I met Danny not long after my ostomy surgery nearly 6 years ago and he has become a really good friend. We now work together on the national Young IA Committee and he has spread awareness about ostomy life via his Instagram for a number of years. He has recently decided to step this up a gear and bring together his personal experience with his formal PT qualification. His aim is to help other ostomates post surgery with their fitness, strength and nutrition goals.

First, tell us a bit about you

I’m 39, a father of 3 living in South Shields. I currently work as a regional account manager in the building industry.

Now tell us about your diagnosis and how it happened

My diagnosis happened towards the end of 2004 and U.C took a strong hold of me towards December into January.

Before surgery

I was hospitalised mid Jan and emergency surgery was performed on 29th January. I was left with my Colon at this point but was in intensive care for a period after surgery.

How were those first few months with your ileostomy? What kind of support did you get and where did you find help?

First few months were very tough, I was 6st 4 after surgery and was in hospital a further 4 weeks. Once I was discharged I spent the next few weeks living with different relatives while my strength grew.
In April I moved back home and was starting to take care of myself again, eventually returning to work in May.
Back then there wasn’t the level of online support that there is now, the only support available was local stoma nurses.

When did you start getting into fitness?

I started back at the gym around November and started sparring again in January. This was all very basic with no real goals or even knowledge.
It wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I started to take training seriously and seeing actual results. This was due to research on both physical training and diet alongside each other.

First sparring session

What made you decide to do your PT training?

I wanted to gain a PT qualification for my own learning, in order for me to develop and understand how to train efficiently. I wanted to learn the differences between the different types of training, aimed at specific needs and goals.

Do you, or have you ever, used specialist equipment for your stoma while exercising eg. support belts?

The only support wear I have ever used is NHS provided boxers and vests. These are hernia support garments and have always given the support needed. I’m firmly against the promotion of expensive support belts/wear that is not NHS approved or available through prescription.

You’ve recently changed up your Instagram to focus on fitness and nutrition for ostomates – what inspired you?

My Instagram was always both private and for awareness, but recently I’ve been inspired by a few different pages to create one aimed at awareness only, I see a lot of amazing pages posting in different ways. But my aim is to offer help and support with weight lifting, strength building and diet – all done safely and to show results. This is the type of thing I wash could have been available for me when I first had surgery.

What advice would you give someone who is about to go for or has just had ostomy surgery?

My advice to anyone who is about to have or go through surgery Is to understand the importance of time to heal. Life doesn’t stop, just slows down temporarily. You can do just as much, if not more once surgery has healed….. the way of life will be much better long term.
And of course never underestimate the affect on mental as well as physical health. Reach out, use social media and don’t ever feel alone.

What would you tell someone who is just starting to look into exercise again post-surgery?

Post surgery you need to give it at least 3 months before starting any kind of physical training. Start slow, take advice and most importantly….. listen to your body. Don’t push too far too soon, your body will let you know if you’re doing too much.

What are your three biggest achievements since having stoma surgery?

My biggest achievement since my surgery is my family. Since surgery I’ve fathered 3 children who all know and understand my illness and support me daily. They’re not shy to talk about it with me or others.

Professionally my biggest achievement was working to a very senior level. I started in a warehouse and within a year of surgery was in a management position, eventually moving on and on through the industry, to managing a team of external salesman covering the largest geographical area within the group.

Another achievement I will always be proud of would be the first time I stepped into a ring after surgery. A good friend and me were training when i received a heal kick directly on the stoma. He was unaware of it but after seeing it, he took a picture and it was posted online.

The photo

Since then my whole mentality changed and I started creating awareness, first with friends and family and then onto a wider platform.

Do you have any new year resolutions or goals for 2022?

My goals last year as far as training go were to achieve a 150kg bench press and 200kg deadlift. I didn’t quite manage the bench, coming close at 142.5kg but exceeded the deadlift at 215kg. This year I aim to achieve the 150kg and to also hit a quarter ton deadlift.

I will also compete in my 5th and final tough mudder, aiming for my fastest finish. And hopefully have a few people from the IBD community join me (I’ve told him I will be there to watch but am in no way getting close to any mud ha ha – Natalie).

Who else in the ostomy world would you suggest people to check out?

I’d suggest people have a look at the following pages, they have a great mixture of insights and training posts/stories.

And of course your good self (I didn’t pay him – honest! Natalie)

You can find Danny on Instagram – DC vs UC

Many people worry that after having ostomy surgery, their life will stop as they know it and they won’t be able to enjoy things they once did. Danny has shown that despite this surgery, life continues to be full of positives – from his gorgeous kids to a great career and a passion for strength training and fitness – his ostomy hasn’t stopped him.

If you have any questions for Danny you can pop them in the comments below or contact him directly via his Instagram page. I am super grateful he took the time to answer my questions and think his knowledge, advice and personal story is really going to help other ostomates out there.

Take care and keep safe everyone,

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