5 years! 5 whole years with an ostomy! 😊👍🙌😎
I’ve now had my ostomy for more than half the time since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Here’s a little timeline …………
📅 December 2009 – First symptoms of Crohn’s appeared (blood in the toilet bowl)
📅 December 2009 – May 2013 – Symptoms gradually worsened until basically I was in a constant flare with little relief > countless medications, enemas, colonoscopies, scans, hospital stays, side effects, diets, anxiety, weight loss, a fistula and a pulmonary embolism ☹
📅 May 2013 – First surgery (temporary loop ileostomy) – some reduction in symptoms at first but short lived
📅 September 2013 – Decision to have pan procto-colectomy and permanent end ileostomy …
➡ A new me!
📅 April 2014 – February 2015 – The new me spent 10 months travelling the world!
📅 May 2015 – Started blogging as Stoma-licious
📅 November 2016 – Relocated from Sydney, Australia to London, UK
(something I’d planned to do back in 2011 but Crohn’s put a grinding halt to that)
📅 September 2018 – Still going strong, travelling and loving life with my ostomy!
Do I regret my decision to have surgery 5 years ago? – Not for one second!! Not one little bit.
Do I love the freedom my ostomy has given me? – Every. Single. Day.
Do I still have days I get frustrated and wish I didn’t have this bag on my belly, and that I didn’t have to get up at least once a night, or need to empty at the most inopportune times!? – Of course!
Would I change any of it? – Nope, no way!
Funny how these last 5 years have gone by so much faster than the previous 5 when I was in and out of Crohn’s flares, in and out of hospital, puffed up on steroids and generally not having a very good time! As they say, time flies when you’re having fun, and these past 5 years have been a walk in the park compared to the 5 before!!
For me, having an ostomy is not a disadvantage.
I remember having a conversation with my mum not long before I left Australia, about how some people (both with and without them) see an ostomy as a disability or disadvantage. I know there are lots of people who do struggle with their ostomies on many different levels, and therefore might see it this way (and have every right to). However I’m incredibly lucky that I have very few issues. I’ve never had a blockage. I’ve only ever had a handful of leaks in 5 years. I quickly adapted and accepted my ostomy physically, mentally and emotionally. It doesn’t stop me from doing anything that I want to do. In some ways you could say it’s an advantage! I’ve even written a blog on 10 reasons why life is great with a stoma!
Of course I’m conscious of my bag, and I do plan and think about some things a bit more than I used to because of my ostomy. For example, preparing for holidays, pre-empting things like when I will need to empty or change my bag, carrying VIPoo whenever I go to the bathroom, going swimming or on hikes, the clothes I buy, and being more mindful of what I eat (and chewing!) and exercising. By far the biggest qualm for me personally is that I am super conscious (and admittedly do get embarrassed) about the smell when I empty in public bathrooms. Hey, everyone’s shit stinks though right?! None of these things are a big deal, and I don’t see them as hindrances or a burden.
I realise Crohn’s disease is a different story, and the concern of the Crohn’s resurfacing somewhere else is always at the back of my mind. I know there’s always a chance in the future that I could have issues with my ostomy too. I sometimes worry about how I will manage if I get old and demented with my bag, but I guess it’s not that different to growing older and having issues with continence. What’s the point in worrying about it now anyway?!
Right now, at this present moment, I do not feel that I’m disadvantaged in any way, shape or form by my ostomy, and I hope that continues for many healthy, happy years. I am sure there are as many (if not MORE) ostomates out there who see their ostomy in a positive light rather than a negative one, and hopefully don’t view it as a disadvantage. It’s okay if you do though – it takes time to adjust. We all have our good and bad days, and we are all different.
I hope that if you have an ostomy and you are struggling that things get better, and that there is still some good there somewhere for you. I hope that no one has to have ostomy surgery, but that if you do, you are free from issues and there are more positives than negatives for you.
Life really isn’t that different with my ostomy. It’s far better than it was with nasty, active Crohn’s inflaming my poor colon. Good riddance to you large intestine, rectum and anus! Even compared to pre-Crohn’s Laura, I have less body image issues over my bag than I ever did about my weight. It has enabled me to do so many things, like travel the world, and most importantly love life again. My ostomy has become second nature. It’s just a part of me now, and a part that I am incredibly grateful for.
Something my mum said during this conversation really resonated with me. “I would never think, poor Laura, she has an ostomy”. Well good! I wouldn’t want anyone to think that! I love my ostomy and what it’s afforded me, and I really wouldn’t change a thing! Happy 5-year stomaversary little guy!!! You’re the best!