What does having a stoma mean to me?

What does having a stoma mean to me?

Before surgery I would never believe that I would end up with a stoma. I would come across them in IBD literature and worry that it could be me but never really thought it would be.

I didn’t have any real thoughts about what it would be like either. I had never seen one and didn’t have an opinion either way because as far as I was concerned it wasn’t me and probably never would be.

I had had ulcerative colitis for many years and eventually got over flares so I assumed that would always be the case.

The day I was told I needed the surgery within 48 hrs, I was shocked to say the least. I wasn’t ready, I hadn’t prepared myself mentally. I didn’t know anything about them.

I was very lucky in that my whole family supported me fully, so at least my relationship with my husband would be intact. There is always that thought in the back of your mind that people might be repulsed and shy away from you. That has never happened to me, but I know others who have experienced relationship and intimacy problems because of it. Either they are very shallow minded partners or maybe the ostomate doesn’t feel comfortable and pushes others away? If you don’t feel attractive then you need help coming to terms with it all. It will stop you living your life to its fullest and you can slip into a depression. You need to know that having a stoma doesn’t change who you are, in fact it enhances it. It changed my life but it also enhanced mine in many ways.

I feel that when I accomplish something new, it is because I made it happen. I started my blog, I started using social media to get to know others, I joined the local Ileostomy Association committee. I went to the last Purple Wings charity ball and met some lovely people. All these things helped me to get out and about and embrace my stoma. It is something I would encourage anyone to do because you know you are not the only one like that. I am proud of it and everyone knows about it, if someone asks me about it I am more than happy to tell them warts and all.

You just need to look at life through a different angle. Not someone who’s life has been changed for the worse and now less of a person, but as someone who can stand tall and say I have been through an horrendous time and come out the other end stronger and ready to tell my story. Yes there are always difficult days but that is true for most people, yes the stoma might cause issues, but if you know others to share your concerns, the problems become smaller and you feel that you can overcome them.

You can also follow Clare on her blog.