The San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
Imagine you’re a teenager. You’re in one of the stages of puberty. You’re trying to grow into yourself in so many ways. You’re going to school, making friends, finding extracurricular activities and hobbies you enjoy.
Yet, your path becomes frequently and annoyingly disrupted by severe abdominal pain and vomiting to the point where you become afraid to eat. You eventually develop a fever that lands you in the emergency room. Hours later, you’re admitted to the hospital for emergency surgery. You have ulcers along your digestive tract along with a blockage due to inflammation. Youre admitted to the hospital for an emergency surgery.
When you wake up, you’re told you have had an ileostomy – your colon and rectum have been removed and you have a stoma with an ostomy pouch attached. You’re taught how to live with this pouch, how you have to empty the pouch several times a day and change it every two to five days.
Great, you think, part of me is missing and I have a s**t bag attached to me; how do I make friends now, or attract a romantic interest, or pursue my education and hobbies? Eventually, you become used to your new friend, and you realize that you can lead a normal life. In fact, you feel a lot better, and you can eat a normal diet again.
This is just what happened to Sister Develyn Angels of The San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Although she was an adult when she had her ileostomy, she had a teenage daughter through whom she could see “how hard it is being a kid.”
Develyn says of her recovery, “I had a hard time being an adult adjusting. A kid with a disability is rough as other kids may not be kind, so it is important to be around other kids your age who are just like you.”
That is precisely what appeals to Develyn about Youth Rally.
“Youth Rally is the amazing organization that we are holding this annual event, the Purple Party, for. I just cannot tell you enough about them,” she said. “They send youth ages 8 to 17 with bladder and digestive issues to camp. They teach them self confidence, independent living, and fun. Plus all the counselors and staff have the same conditions the kids do.”
And it’s all at no cost to the families.
Develyn was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2008 and had her operation in March 2013, after experiencing a couple years of grave illness.
“My GI said I’ve probably had it most of my life with the damage done,” said Develyn. “I had developed an abscess on my colon. They put in a drain, they put me on antibiotics; nothing helped.”
After five weeks in the hospital, Develyn was sent in for emergency surgery. When she awoke, she had what she calls “a new little friend” and had lost two feet of her colon. The abscess turned out to be the size of her surgeon’s fist.
“So, on March 9, 2013, I became an osteomate,” she said. “I have an ileostomy. So I have a bag on my tummy – I have a ‘shitz’ bag – best thing that ever happened!”
Develyn quickly learned to move on normally with her life. For her, that meant to expand on her position as a drag show stage manager (thus the tag to her Sister name, “Shepardess of Drag”) by declaring her intent to pursue a path to become a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence in order to give back to her community.
“When we go through our journey as Sisters, at our novice level we are asked to do a project, something for our community, our Sisters, a charity, to show that we are ready to take on the work as a fully professed Sister. Kinda like a test drive,” she said.
“I have always known I wanted to do something Crohn’s or Ostomy related. I talked to one of our Saints for the house and she told me about Youth Rally. I was in love. They had a mission statement that paralleled ours. So I set to work and now it’s an annual event.”
The project was deemed a success and Develyn became a fully professed Sister in November 2014.
“My personal mission as a sister is bring awareness to the invisible illnesses,” she said. “To let others know they aren’t alone, and that they have voices, and that they are perfect just the way they are.”
The Purple Party will be on again on Sunday, October 2, at 5 p.m. at Numbers Nightclub, which is located at 3811 Park Blvd. The admission is$10, and includes the show and the mashed potato bar.
Be sure to wear purple! Why?
Develyn smiles: “Well, first off, I love purple! Second, the purple ribbon has many meanings but I use the ribbon for Crohn’s and Colitis awareness.”
The fundraising event is a community effort.
“I have some love from my community,” Develyn said. “Gossip Grill donates our potatoes; we receive donations from local artists; my poster and flyer design and printing is donated; as well as gift baskets, gifts from local restaurants, and local performers donate their time, talents and tip money for the children.”
For those who cannot attend the event, donations can be made at sdsisters.org.