This conversation took me a long time to master. When I first had my ostomy surgery, I was probably too open with people. I would tell anyone that would listen. I think it was my way of coping with what was happening. I tend to talk about things in my life than keep them bottled in. I was working full time at the time of my ostomy surgeries and therefore, was very open with my colleagues and supervisors. My employer was very supportive so that conversation didn’t seem awkward in any way. It was even easier to tell family and friends since they were at the hospital with me and knew all that was going on. It was embarrassing at times explaining that I now poop out of a bag on my stomach (to put it literally).
Now that I’m 4 years out of my initial surgery, it’s been easier to explain my situation to others, if I chose to. I don’t share this information on job interviews. I don’t want to give them ANY reason to think differently of me. Some of my colleagues know about it. I don’t make a big deal about it but I want some people to know in case I get sick or something happens while I’m at work. I work in a hospital so majority of the people I work with know what an ostomy is and have no issue with it. That definitely helps. It was harder at my other job because no one knew what it was and I had to sit and explain it to him or her. All of my friends and family know about it. I’ve been pretty open about my experience. I write these articles and I also have a personal blog. I’ve written articles for the UOAA and done modeling. I advocate to others and share my story to spread awareness so I find it quite easy to talk about it. However, I can understand that it’s not easy for everyone to talk about this.
The hardest time for me is when I’m dating. I find it very overwhelming to share this with someone I want to have an intimate relationship with. I’ve written articles about dating and how it can be very challenging to share that with someone. I used to blurt it out right away and I don’t find that helpful at all. I wait many dates until I tell someone. I think it’s important to see if you have a connection with that person first before you share personal information. It’s a hard balance to determine the best time to tell someone. I like to go on a few dates first and see how things are going. If I think things are going towards a possible relationship, then I share. I like to tell soon enough so that if they have a problem with it, then there isn’t a lot of heartbreak (at least I hope not). However, I don’t want to tell someone prematurely and freak them out potentially. I’ve had positive and negative responses and if they are bothered by it, then they’re not for you. It’s as simple as that.
It can be scary to tell someone for the first time. I’ve been there and still have those moments. I want to be accepted for me and not my ostomy. However, not everyone is so nice. You have to find your way of telling people that doesn’t make you uncomfortable. And don’t feel like you have to tell everyone. This is your personal business and you can tell who you want. Practice with your friends and family. That’s what I do when I’m thinking of telling a potential partner. Use your support system; that’s what they’re there for!