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3 Things My Ostomy Gave Me

Today is World Ostomy Day. Some may scoff and say, "Why on earth do we need to recognize a day like today?" I would tell you, it's for that very reason.

There's a big stigma associated with having an ostomy that sadly still stands today. Earlier this year you may remember a certain commercial in which a woman paints having an ostomy in a negative light after her colon was removed allegedly because of smokingThere was also a police station that warned committing crimes could result in an ostomy. Thankfully, there was restitution for these due to ostomates rising to the occasion to fight said stigma.

I am a former ostomate. Did I like the idea of having an ostomy? No. Is it fun? Absolutely not. It's scary. It's not natural. That's not how my body was designed. And I knew there would be pain involved. Not exactly something I was thrilled about. I fought it for three years. I was determined to keep my colon and live a healthy, care-free life. This is what all of us want after all. But then the reality sank in and I was faced with the life-changing decision. Do I continue different medicinal trials or do I go under the knife?

I chose the latter.

On April 15th, 2014, I had my colon removed and began living my life with an ostomy for three months. I remember waking up in the recovery area later that day. I'm not sure the time. I was in excruciating pain in my abdomen - no "keyhole" procedure for me! The first thing I remember the nurse asking, "What's your pain scale?"

"8-9." I responded.

"Really?" She asked.


"Here's your morphine pump."

I didn't care about some pump. I just wanted to go back to sleep.

My husband and several family members saw my ostomy before I did. I was so drugged up when my husband took a peek I vaguely remember it. I don't remember exactly when it was that I picked up enough courage to look, but I do remember that it was not as scary as I thought. It was swollen and bloody, but it wasn't so bad. I could live like this.

Beginning life with an ostomy is not easy... and to those ostomates out there, you guys rock. So many of them are out there fighting the stigma and helping others every day. They even helped me on multiple occasions.

Though I only got to know the ornery Peeves the Stoma for three months before the takedown surgery for my j-pouch, I learned to appreciate him. Despite the fact that he once leaked into my lemon-sized abscess wound. I kind of look back on that time fondly because I know that without my ostomy, I would not have met the amazing people I know today. During that time in my life strong bonds were built between complete strangers like nothing else I've experienced. I will treasure my life with an ostomy for that reason. I am humbled and grateful for every single one of them.

After living with Peeves for three month, I have realized three things:

1) If I ever have to go back to life with an ostomy, I definitely could. Though it isn't ideal to live without a colon, it's sure as heck better than living with a DISEASED colon.

2) If I ever have to go back to life with an ostomy, I know that I have the support (aka FRIENDS) I need. In the internet age, we have so many resources at our fingertips (The Stolen Colon, Vegan Ostomy, Journaling IBD, The Front Butt YouTuber, Empowering Patients and so many more I'm sure I've forgotten to mention - sorry guys, you know who you are!).

3) Having an ostomy does not make me ugly, smelly or disgusting. Living with an ostomy gave me my life back. And there's definitely something to be said about that.

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