This question is very dependent on how you are coping with your stoma but also whether you have any other complications. If you had a relatively easy surgery and recovery, no complications, a well-behaved stoma and plenty of support then you will probably say no you are not disabled.
But what if that wasn’t your story?
What if you were so poorly pre-surgery that even having the surgery could have killed you? You might have developed mental health issues too.
I feel that yes, I am disabled up to a point because of complications due to pre-surgery illness and post-surgery complications that are still ongoing.
I have a stomal fistula, which has its own issues, leaking and soreness, but because I had rectal stump blowout leading to pelvic sepsis, it led to me developing a vaginal/ perineal fistula. This caused leakage too, with pain and discomfort and many surgeries to try and fix. The latest one being a muscle transposition and flap which isn’t for the faint hearted and is a much slower recovery than I expected or was advised. Oh, and I am still leaking.
So, the question of disability is very individual even though articles and doctors may say having a stoma is not a disability, it is not cut and dried.
Mental health plays a big part in surgery of this kind, and if things are not going well, then your quality of life suffers making it a disability. The fact that there are signs on a lot of public toilets say not all disabilities are visible, tell me that we come under that bracket. Yes, I go to work (although full time would be a struggle) and yes I can go out and about, but I never underestimate the impact that having a stoma and other issues can have on me. I will always feel different to my friends, and my struggles with leaks and more surgeries have left mental and physical scars.
For me it has not been an easy road, and that road still has a way to go, but on the flip side, I didn’t much enjoy the colitis either and this is the better problem to have.
Do you feel disabled sometimes or are you an ostomate that has come out the other side of illness so much better? Do you have OFF days? It would be good to hear others and their thoughts on this ongoing subject.
Education is the key Paddy!
I don't think it's a question of being disabled - rather that as an ostomate I find I need a little more time in a toilet than others and I am more comfortable if in some cases I can use the disabled bathroom. Hold your head high and get on - too bad if people don't understand. Maybe some people need a little education!