Ostomate at university

Anecia Duffy
Anecia Duffy
We can do anything the same as everyone else at university and if not better, having a stoma shouldn’t put a hold on your dreams.

A few years back, I would never in a million years have said to myself Aneica you are going to live in Belfast and attend Queens University School of Nursing and Midwifery. Here I am, sitting in a lecture theatre with people of all ages, life experience and looking like everyone else.

Whilst ones are getting their hair and eyebrows (now not forgetting how important they are in terms of makeup ) to perfection in the morning. I am changing my wee bag and holding it tight another extra couple of minutes, so it really is stuck and no creases and rush out the door with the hair fuzzy and white as a ghost. That for me is priorities….. well that and breakfast haha!

I decided to tell the university about my condition since I go back home for my biologic treatment every so often and if I was having a flare-up they would understand,  my year lead did more than understand and put a plan in place for me. Considerate, kind and caring is the way I can describe her response and being called a pro in living with a stoma lifted me as I had been struggling with it all for a while.

I use a radar key for the disabled toilets, to avoid ques and if I ever need to change my bag, because anything could happen. Telling people that you have a condition really helps things, they ask questions which I don’t mind as it just irons out any awkwardness, my stoma likes to contribute vocally to class lectures (thank god the lectures don’t hear him) and my friends just act normal which is what I want.

So as a new university student, my advice would be:

  1. Explain your illness to the university, they would rather help than see you struggle because you have potential to be brilliant in anything you do.
  2. Talk to student services, this is how I found out I needed a radar key to access the toilets.
  3. Carry extra supplies with you, change them every 2/3 weeks just to keep them fresh.
  4. Familiarise yourself with the campus.
  5. Tell your friends, they will understand because they know you for who you are not for what you have.

We can do anything the same as everyone else at university and if not better, having a stoma shouldn’t put a hold on your dreams. We go through so much and just getting a place is a massive milestone. Enjoy it, take it all in and take it one day at a time.

Be proud of how far you have come, it was a massive step for me and I am surprising myself, I go on my first placement really soon.

Aneica xx

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