To mark World Ostomy Day 2018, I’ve decided to write about things my ostomy didn’t change about me or my life. It would probably be easier to write about things my ostomy DID change about me. It would certainly be a shorter list! Why? Apart from a few obvious things, not much has changed. I’m still me! A slightly rejigged version of me where my body functions a tad differently to some, but otherwise, still me. I would even say a new and improved version of me!
Firstly, I’ll focus on those things people often negatively associate with or worry that having an ostomy might change about them, but I assure you, it doesn’t have to!
Six things my ostomy DIDN’T change about me:
- Exercise – I have never been an overly sporty person, but there’s no reason why ostomates can’t go to the gym, run, do yoga, go swimming, play football, basketball, or any other sport you can think of! Note: It’s always a good idea to wear a support belt for anything strenuous to help prevent hernias.
- Sex – My husband and I still have a very fulfilling sex life. In fact, we have more sex now than we ever did when I had a Crohn’s flare!
- Work/Career – apart from having some time off for the surgery and recovery, I now work full time, 5 days per week, and my ostomy places no limit on my career options!
- Travel and adventures – since having my ostomy I have travelled to over 20 countries and relocated from Australia to live in the UK. I’ve been paragliding, zip lining, hot air ballooning, to music festivals and more!
- What I wear – apart from switching to high waisted underpants (by choice not necessity), I still wear all the same clothes that I did pre-surgery. I do tend to go for baggier, longer length tops, but there’s nothing to stop ostomates from wearing sexy skin tight dresses or skinny jeans if they want!
- I still don’t smell! One of the biggest concerns for many ostomates is that their bag will smell. I promise you, I don’t smell any more now than I did before I had my ostomy!
I admit that in many ways my ostomy did change lots of things about me, but every single one of these things is for the better.
Six things my ostomy DID change about me (for the better!):
- Stronger relationships + a stronger me! I feel my personal relationships are even stronger since having my ostomy. My family and I have always been close, but going through years of bad health and a big surgery together have brought us even closer. Especially my (now) husband, who has really seen me at my worst, but has stuck with me through it all. Even some friendships have grown – not all friends want to hear about stomas and poop! We’ve had some interesting conversations around the dinner table!!
Not only are my relationships stronger, I’m stronger too! The struggles and surgery have made me more resilient, and I know if I can get through this I can get through anything!
- New friends and passions – Not only have old friendships grown, but I’ve made new friendships too. I’ve met so many amazing, inspirational ostomates through blogging, social media, charity events and volunteering. I’m passionate about helping others with IBD and ostomies, and love sharing stories and advice, and being part of a caring and supportive online ostomy community ❤️
- Gratitude, appreciation and joy for life – I don’t take things for granted as much as I used to, I have a better focus on my priorities and what matters most in life, I am more thankful for the good days and I try to live every moment to the full!
- Self-Awareness / Self-care – admittedly I didn’t always look after myself or pay much attention to my body pre-Crohn’s. I smoked, drank too much, didn’t get enough sleep. Since having an ostomy I’m much more in tune with my body and listen to what it needs. It’s easy to take a healthy functioning body for granted … until it’s not anymore! We only have one body, so we should look after it!
- Freedom – no longer do I feel trapped in my own house, constantly worried about where the toilet is. My ostomy has given me the freedom to go anywhere and do anything.
- Quality of life – most importantly, removing my diseased colon and creating my ostomy has helped get me healthy again. It’s given me back my health (and happiness) and I have a far better quality of life!
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are so many ways my ostomy has changed my life IN A GOOD WAY!!! As I write this, I realise it wouldn’t be a shorter list after all!
My ostomy has had a positive impact on my life in a multitude of ways. My stoma does not hold me back. It hasn’t changed who I am deep down. It hasn’t changed my ability to exercise, work, travel, wear nice clothes or have a good sex life. Actually, it’s made all of these things considerably better (in comparison to during a Crohn’s flare).
“The Secret of Change Is to Focus All of Your Energy,
Not on Fighting the Old, But on Building the New” – Socrates