World Ostomy Day 2015 – Help me increase the volume

Turn-Up-The-VolumeAnd by volume, I’m not talking about Ostomy output! I’m asking for your help to increase the volume and to make our Ostomy awareness raising voice as loud as we possibly can! Let’s turn those dials all the way up to max!! Crank it!

As World Ostomy Day (WOD) quickly draws to a close here in Australia, I thought it important to write a post in honour of this important day. I was quite surprised to learn that WOD only occurs once every 3 years. I am a little unsure as to why it’s not an annual event, but I like to think that every day is Ostomy Day for me!

12088577_617129685092238_7559033473710179111_nThe theme for WOD 2015 is “Many Stories, One Voice”. This got me to thinking about all the stories of ostomates out there and how others came to have an ostomy. It also got me thinking about how many people are even aware of what an ostomy is. I had never heard of an ostomy and hadn’t the foggiest clue of how it worked or what it meant prior to getting sick.

My ostomy is due to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), so I basically associate ostomies with IBD and often neglect the plethora of other reasons someone may have an ostomy. Of course there are many people who have an ostomy because of Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, but there are many other causes and stories behind ostomies including bowel, rectal or bladder cancer, diverticulitis, Hirschsprung’s disease, familial adenomatous polyposis and ischemic or necrotic non-functioning bowel.

11224315_616458438492696_4261174808503111963_nKeeping to theme, it goes without saying that obviously not only the disease, but the path to an ostomy is different for everyone. Everybody’s story is unique, but in many cases our stories go unheard or people feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their experience, especially with some of the stigmas and negative connotations that have been wrongly put out there. The important thing is to unite so that with one loud combined voice we increase awareness and understanding of ostomies. What life with an ostomy is like (the good and the bad)!

I looked for statistics on how many people have an ostomy in Australia and around the world. Surprisingly, it was almost impossible to find exact numbers. According to Coloplast, there are approximately 2.5 million people worldwide living with an Ostomy. Considering the world population is around 7 billion, that’s actually fewer than I thought. My maths is terrible, but the percentage is actually quite small, which I guess is a good thing!!

I’ve been thinking about WOD all week and contemplating what to write about. Lots of different things come to mind and I have already read lots of fantastic awareness raising posts. I don’t just want to retell #MyOstomyStory as I have already done that (and I don’t want to bore you!). I’d love to write an earth-shattering, ground-breaking post unlike any other!

Where do I start? I have so much I want to say about ostomies. How do I best campaign for WOD and send out an honest and meaningful message?

Ostomies are different for everyone – there are different types of ostomies, different levels of acceptance, complications, attitudes, heart warming stories, heart breaking stories, misconceptions, myths, support, isolation, challenges. I could go on and on.

I could write about what an Ostomy is (I was clueless before I had to have one). Or about what life with an ostomy is like for me. How my life has changed since surgery. I could stand up and shout out about why I love my stoma. I could share feelings about why sometimes I look in the mirror and wish it wasn’t there and that for one day I could just be “normal”. I could sing from the rooftops about all the amazing things I have done with my ostomy, from the regular daily tasks that we often take for granted, to incredible worldwide adventures. I could joke about why I sometimes really miss being able to sit on the toilet and get the release of doing a really great poo (actually that’s not a joke)! I could tell you what it’s like to poop in a bag. I could flaunt my Stoma-licious belly! I could tell you things about my ostomy that would make you laugh or that might make you cry.

I hope that I have already, and am able to continue, to share my stories, feelings and thoughts on an ongoing basis about all these things and more through Stoma-licious for many months and hopefully years to come.

I intend to dedicate this entire week on my Facebook page to sharing articles and posts about EVERYTHING OSTOMY for World Ostomy Day. Hopefully you see these and learn something new, are able to relate or are inspired by ostomate’s stories.

AND instead of me picking the specific topic for this WOD post, I am opening it up to YOU! I want you to help be THE VOICE.

Please, ASK QUESTIONS… Please COMMENT… Other ostomates, please SHARE YOUR #MyOstomyStory… Please let me know ostomy TOPICS YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS. Anything  you’re CURIOUS ABOUT or want to know about ostomies? If you could ask me just one question, what would it be?

Ask me anything (ostomy related)! I promise I will answer it as best and as honestly as I can!! Please like, share and get involved to help spread awareness and make this WOD voice as big, booming and bold as we can!!!

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