I have four precious little people in my life. My twin nephews, aged 10, and my granddaughters who are 3 and 9 months. Apart from the baby, who is obviously too young, they all know about my stoma.
I had my ileostomy when my daughter was 3, she is now 35! I developed severe Chron’s Colitis shortly after she was born but thankfully the ileostomy completely restored my bowel health. I never hid my stoma from my daughter, and she took it completely in her stride, even asking once if she would get one when she was big. I explained she would not, and I only had one because I had been poorly and it had made me better.
Fast forward 32 years and I now have two bags. One, for the original stoma that has served me so well and one for a dreaded fistula, which I developed following a perforated bowel that happened during a hysterectomy. The fistula has at times made me very ill and the last four years have been hard.
Since having the fistula in 2015 though, I have also had my two granddaughters who are an absolute joy. My nephews know I have a bag but being older they don’t mention it much. When I had the second bag because of the fistula, Joshua, one of the twins, used to ask what had happened and why couldn’t they fix me. Not wanting to worry him, I played it all down and said it was all fine. They are 10 now and so it’s not really mentioned apart from absolute hysterics if it makes a noise!
My little granddaughter Cerys however is more inquisitive. She has a habit of following me to the loo when I go for a wee and most of the time I manage to hide my ‘added extras’. Last week however she saw the bags and the questions began.
‘What is it nanna’, she asked, her wide-eyed innocence tearing my heart apart. ‘What is it’ was soon followed by ‘why have you got it’ and ‘take it off now please nanna’. I gently explained nanna had been poorly, but the bag had made me better again and I loved it, it was my friend. She called it ‘My Goody Bag,’ which made me smile. Truth be known the stoma most definitely is My Goody Bag and the fistula is without doubt My Baddy Bag, but we didn’t go there!
I think honesty is the best policy as children are so accepting of things. She never mentioned it after and was soon jumping on my lap wanting me to read another story. The children are a huge part of my life and have helped me recover and move on from the devastation that the fistula brought. My ileostomy gave me my life back and the fistula tried to take it away but I’m still here and enjoying life with my family and those precious little people.