Telling someone you have a stoma

Telling someone you have a stoma

I hope you are all doing as well as you can be in these strange times we are facing. Covid has been with us for quite a while now, times we took for granted have changed so much.

But something that is also still here (slightly improving yes) but still here are people’s perceptions of stomas. This brings me to chat about how I would tell someone that you have a stoma. I have been and continue to openly talk about my stoma in the hope that people will not feel different or embarrassed when they feel ready to talk about their own.

When I have met someone for the first time, I try to get to know them and for them to get to know me first, I just can’t say ‘oh by the way….’. I don’t want to tell someone something that is so personal to me to if it isn’t necessary. I get slight nerves in my stomach and my heart starts to race when I am telling someone about my friend. I wonder is this normal? I am just over thinking it, I always do.

The timing has always been perfect, especially with friends chatting about something with university work, I say, have you heard of crohns disease? So, I have crohns disease and had to have surgery, so I have a stoma. They look at you and say you would never know and maybe get the odd wee sad eyes. I appreciate when they ask questions about mine, how long have you had it? Will you have it for life? What’s your diet like? Is it sore?  I am happy to share the information with them because at the end of the day, its one more person who will know a bit more about stomas and reduce the stigma that is attached to them.

And sometimes the universe pushes you to tell someone who you might not know who also has one and needs a friendly chat. An example of this is when my tunic zip ripped open on the ward to a patient who had a stoma. They were just looking for a friendly face and someone to ask questions to that they wouldn’t ask to their doctor. Still laugh at how much of a coincidence this was!

For younger kids, like my nieces and nephews, I tell them that their auntie NeeNee has a spot on her belly and wears a plaster over it, so it doesn’t get hurt. They don’t judge or think I am different. I am just their Auntie NeeNee.

A few tips that work for me

  • Get to know that person first
  • Don’t over think it telling someone
  • Stay calm
  • Everything happens for a reason.