Learning To Love Your Ostomy

Your Ostomy Helps You Live A Better Life, And Here Are The Reasons Why

The day you found out you were going to get an ostomy may have been a dark one for you. In some cases, ostomy surgery may even be done on an emergency basis, and patients wake up to their ostomy as a total surprise. No matter how or why you came by your ostomy, it will become a part of your life going forward. Once you've had some time to get used to the idea, and settled into your post-surgery routine, you can learn to appreciate your ostomy. Here are the reasons why your ostomy can be your best friend, and how you can be grateful for it.

1
Your Ostomy Saved Your Life

Heartbeat
You may have had your ostomy surgery because of severe disease. It may have even saved your life. Photo © jscreationzs

For many of us, ostomy surgery was also a life-saving surgery. In the case of colon cancer, removing the cancerous parts of the intestine, along with any other cancer cells, and creating the ostomy may prevent the cancer from spreading to other organs. In the case of Crohn's disease, removing a diseased section of colon can help bring you back out of a flare-up and towards better health. In the case of ulcerative colitis, an ostomy could have been necessary to treat toxic megacolon or to prevent colon cancer. Whatever the reason it was done, without the availability of ostomy surgery, many lives would be cut short unnecessarily.

2
No More Emergency Bathroom Runs

Man Running
After ostomy surgery, it might not be necessary to run to the bathroom 20 times a day or more with diarrhea. Photo © ddpavumba

For many people, life with an ostomy is better than it was before. In the case of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, life pre-ostomy may have been filled with emergency trips to the bathroom. Some people with IBD are even afraid to leave their houses for very long or avoid eating before going out in order to prevent a rush to the toilet. With an ostomy, the pressure to find a bathroom in a hurry is over. You need to empty your bag, but this can be done when and where you need to, without a need to make a mad dash because of a case of diarrhea.

3
No One Knows (Really -- They Don't!)

Surprised Woman
Even if you think it's noticeable -- it's not. People truly aren't that observant. Photo © David Castillo Dominici

New ostomates may worry that every person they meet will know that they have an ostomy. In truth, there is no way anyone will know unless you tell them. There is no smell from your stoma, and ostomy bags are so advanced now that they don't rustle or make noise. All of these factors help keep your ostomy secret (if you choose it to keep it that way). Additionally, people are not as observant as we often think they are. Most people are not scrutinizing your waistline or paying any attention to your comings and goings. If you do decide to tell people about your ostomy, they will probably tell you they had no idea.

4
Your Life Is Better Than It Used To Be

Key
For some, an ostomy means a new lease on life and a key to living with a better quality of life. Photo © Michal Marcol

Remember when you were so sick? You could barely make it out of bed some days. You may have worried about bathroom accidents or even had trouble sleeping. With your ostomy you can begin to take your life back -- have a social life, travel, exercise, even swim. If you think of your ostomy as a tool, a key to new opportunities, you can do anything that anyone who does not have an ostomy can do. And now you can do it in better health.

5
You Can Wear Anything You Want

Exercise
Bikini, workout wear, lingerie: wear what you want! Show as little or as much of your bag as you want. Photo © Ambro

It's true, you can wear anything you want. What's to stop you from wearing an evening gown? Swim trunks? Even a bikini? The only thing that will limit your wardrobe is you. There are a variety of ostomy appliances available today that can help you get into your pre-ostomy clothes with no problem. There are tiny pouches, disposable pouches, even pouches with attractive covers. There are no limits for you except those that you set for yourself.

6
Those Who Matter Don't Mind

Young Friends With Joined Hands
Your friends -- the ones who will stand by you through everything -- will not care how you go to the bathroom. Photo © imagerymajestic
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. -Dr Seuss

That's right, I just quoted Dr Seuss. The fact remains that he is absolutely correct. You are going to meet people who are going to say horrible and insensitive things to you about your ostomy. But you are also going to meet people who are not going to care about your ostomy any more than they would care about your hair color or your height. Your ostomy is part of you, and you are a package deal. Someone who would be cruel to you about your ostomy would most likely also be cruel to you about any other thing that makes you "different," no matter what it was. Those people will not be able to stick by you -- or anyone else -- during the twists and turns life takes, especially as we all get older. They are best left behind you, to find their own way. It's not your job to fix them, although you may have the opportunity to educate them if you wish to do so.

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