Lately, people have been asking me how I’ve become so okay with how my life currently is. I think they mean to ask ‘how have you been able to accept your stoma so well?’ because it’s only been a little over six months since my operation.
I think it’s down to three things, really:
1. I have lived with a chronic illness for five years. I’ve had all that time to build up my own way to accept whatever circumstances have been thrown my way; both with my health and a result of my health. So, I learnt a while back to ‘roll with the punches’ and to ‘see the positive side’ – because there is always one, you just have to be willing to see and find it – through having had counselling sessions. From these, I found out a lot about myself but also discovered new methods to help me cope.
2. At my first surgical consult in January 2016, my surgeon explained that my Right Hemicolectomy could result in a temporary stoma – about a 5% chance. I decided I had to get my head around that, so feeling okay about maybe having one and preparing myself for one, was helpful when I finally did get my ostomy; I just didn’t realise it would be so soon.
3. I have a curious mind. I am fascinated by how the body works – more so now that I have an illness – so having my insides come outside of me, I think, is quite cool. And I just see it as another quirk of mine – I have a bag of poo on my belly!
In addition to that, my ability to see the funny side; being able to laugh and joke about it, just makes it more normal to me and everyone I interact with. I wouldn’t be without my support system of family, friends and medical professionals who have guided me through recovering from major surgery and living with an ostomy.
So, now that my acceptance is here to stay, what do I intend to do with it?
Well, I hope that by me being ‘okay’ with my ostomy, will make it okay for others to think it’s okay too. The raising of awareness; of letting people know that this is not a bad thing that has happened to me, it is something I have had a choice in - something I am proud of having - is something I am happy to partake it. And so far, it’s led to some very cool and exciting opportunities and I have been able to connect with even become friends with some great people.
Part of raising ostomy awareness is to help non-ostomates is to see an ostomy as ‘normal’ and acceptable. It is not something for an ostomate to be ashamed of. And it certainly isn’t something to used as an insult or as a derogatory term. Ostomies come in lots of forms and for many reasons, to many different types of people. There should not be a judgement here.
Let’s break down the walls and start small.
If you are curious about an ostomy – my ostomy, let say – then ask. I am happy to answer questions and queries.
You can follow my adventures with a chronic illness – and my new life with an ostomy – at www.youngcrohns.co.uk