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!!Continue reading
An open letter to hospitals
New ostomy patients get most or all of their initial information about living with their stomas from ostomy nurses – usually verbally. And that’s a problem. The information is either inadequate or so detailed that new patients can’t absorb it all.Continue reading
As Elvis would’ve said, a little more conversation …
Just tripped across an article in the UK’s Daily Mail about Sarah Mills, a 36-year old woman from Kent. After surviving stage 3 colon cancer, Sarah wanted to celebrate her ostomy bag and help break the stigma about them. She accomplished both goals beautifully by sharing these images of herself on Instagram, Continue reading
Hernia belts – hole or no hole??
In North America, support belts for parastomal hernias typically have holes for the pouch to come through, and elsewhere they don’t. What’s up with that?? Continue reading
Ostomies by the numbers
Every time I trip across ostomy statistics or surveys, my interest is piqued. I guess like many of us, I never knew anyone with an ostomy before my surgery. And even now, every ostomate I know is a virtual acquaintance of some kind. So it can all feel a little surreal at times. Maybe that’s why numbers hold such an appeal – they validate the experiences we all share. As they say, there’s comfort in numbers. Continue reading
Online ostomy groups – the good, the bad, and the ugly
Online groups can be a wonderful source of information and support. You post a comment or question, and ostomates from around the world respond, usually within minutes. Here are some tips I’ve learned on how to find the group that’s the best fit for you, and how to get the most out of it.
Unexpected benefits of having an ostomy
Recently, a member of an online ostomy forum asked about the “fun perks” of having an ostomy. I know it’s not all sunshine & roses, but sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves there can be an upside too (in addition to saving our lives). Here are some of the responses:
Why I wouldn’t sit next to Sharon Osbourne on a plane
I heard something trivial about Sharon Osbourne the other day, and it sparked a memory of something she once said on her talk show. The topic of discussion was people you wouldn’t want to sit next to on a plane. I might have picked someone with terrible body odour, or someone drunk & obnoxious. But Sharon casually revealed that she wouldn’t sit beside anyone with a colostomy bag!
The Ostomy Raft
So we’re all floating lazily down the river of life, each in our own boat … when something goes terribly wrong. It could be a mechanical failure. Maybe your boat has sprung a slow leak. Or you’re suddenly attacked by pirates and tossed overboard. Whatever the reason, you find yourself in the water, arms flailing, desperately struggling to stay afloat.
Before too long an enormous raft appears in the distance. It’s heading directly towards you. As it gets closer, you see it’s filled with people. Just as you think it’s about to run you over, all these strong arms and hands reach down from the raft and pull you to safety. Phew!
It takes a while to get your bearings. You’re exhausted from your ordeal, maybe a little battered and bruised. But slowly, you begin to realize that everyone else on the raft is a survivor too. Some are still wet behind the ears. A few are only there temporarily, until their boats are repaired. Many others know they’ll be on the raft for the rest of their journey. And that’s ok.
Over time, you realize how lucky you are to be in such good company. You’re still the same person, still floating down the same river. There’s just been a change in your boat. And now you’re ready to reach out and help others. After all, that’s what the journey’s all about.