Congratulations. It’s a stoma!

In response to someone’s post on a FB group recently, I was musing about how finding oneself with an ostomy can be like suffering a loss. We can go through all the stages of grief, ricocheting between shock and denial and anger and depression, trapped in some kind of giant cosmic pinball machine – until finally, hopefully, reaching a place of acceptance. Ding-ding-ding. Jackpot!!

But then it occurred to me. It’s not that simple. Even while we’re dealing with the loss of an old life, still ricocheting around inside that damn game, a brand-new life is beginning. Bringing with it a whole new set of challenges.

It’s very much like having a baby. We’re released from hospital feeling totally ill-equipped for the daunting task ahead. So much to learn. OMG, how do people do this? The supplies cost HOW MUCH?! There’s pee or poop everywhere, leaks, rashes, constant burping, non-stop laundry. We’re bleary-eyed, trying to meet the demands of this strange, gassy, colicky new creature who can nap all day and keep us up all night. Whether we’re a single parent or have the support of a helpful, hands-on partner, it’s never easy.  

But we gradually get the hang of it. One day, one crisis at a time. We become exquisitely aware of our little one’s quirks – it’s allergic to this, gets explosive diarrhea from that. Mental note: the inventor of the Diaper Genie deserves a statue. Our new BFF is a nurse, who actually wants to talk about poop. What colour is it? And the consistency? I love you! Packing a bag of emergency supplies and spare clothes for a dash to the corner store is second nature. Some of us will get to teach potty training (irrigation), making our lives even easier. For others, diaper changes will be a permanent part of life. And that’s ok, because the location of every clean, well equipped public toilet in town is engraved in our brain.  

Eventually life really does settle into a new normal. As a responsible parent, we’ve learned to take control. Bad behaviour, medical problems, holding in poop till we set one foot in the shower … we’ve got this!

Now if we could just convince the little sucker not to produce long, loud farts in elevators. THAT would be the real jackpot!