Explaining Your Stoma To Friends? Why Not Try A Stoma Flash!

Explaining Your Stoma To Friends Why Not Try A Stoma Flash

How do you explain what a stoma is to somebody who has no clue?

“The food I eat empties out into a bag” – not specific enough.

“I have a hole in my abdomen where the end of my intestines pop out” – maybe.

“I had a massive chunk of my digestive system removed so now have a pouch taped to my tummy to do the job for me” – possibly.

Explaining what a stoma is to someone who is unfamiliar with the concept can be a tricky task. I often forget that the idea of a stoma is completely alien to many people and therefore I skip past a lot of the most important details, leaving the person I’m talking to looking rather perplexed. Over time I’ve become a little better at explaining my stoma.

Here’s what I say...

I usually start with the reason why I had a stoma formed - a damaged large bowel due to Crohn’s disease. Then I’ll tell them what I had removed (my large bowel) and how much of it (the entire thing). At this point, I must remind myself that not everyone is familiar with the detailed structure of the digestive system. If they’ve never had problems with their gut, why would they be? I say that I’ve had the end of the remainder of my intestines fused to the surface of my abdomen and wear a stoma pouch to collect my waste.

Describing my pouch is pretty easy – it’s just a bag after all!

Even better – I’ll show them my stoma!

If I’m close to the person, I’ll even show them. I’m more than happy to flash my friends. (Just to clarify, I mean a flash of my stoma, not any other type. I’m not a complete weirdo).

When it comes to reactions, I’ve seen them all. Some will respond with genuine interest, plenty of questions and a desire to learn more. Others won’t know how to react so will say nothing at all. Then there are those who will respond with pure shock. When this happens, I just tell myself that it’s nothing personal and remind myself that my stoma and I are perfectly happy!

How do you explain your stoma to others?

If you have any tips for me that you’ve learnt from your experience, I’d love to hear them!

Forever flashing,

"Explaining what a stoma is to someone who is unfamiliar with the concept can be a tricky task" - Rakhee Patel

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by Rakhee Patel

Rakhee Patel

About the author

I'm Rakhee, I have had a loop ileostomy and now have an end ileostomy due to Crohn's disease. Happy to share my journey!

Recent Comments

  • masi

    my dear rakhee masi rooting for u & it is good you are sharing your journey in life with others & educating people about stoma I am praying for you that god gives you the courage & strength to carry on your daring & bold journey. you look gorgeous in the sari keep up the good work dear Happy New Year, take care, masi & vivian

  • Maya

    Very informative and much nicer to read about it than pester someone who has it with questions.

  • Rakhee

    Masi and Vivian, thank you so much for your kind words and support. I endeavour to do the best I can. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading the blog! Thanks Maya. Yes some conversations are not so easy to have in real life. The written word is therefore the perfect tool for something like this. I'm glad it made some sense to you!

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