Other ostomates fully understand
It’s said that strangers often make the best people to talk to for advice as they don’t know the ins and outs of a situation, so can give non-biased opinions. This can also be true for the online ostomy support groups, and it is through these support groups that I have now made some absolutely blinding ostomy friendships. I am truly blessed to now have friends in my life that also have stomas because, no matter how much those around us try to understand and empathise, they can never fully understand without having a stoma themselves.
Making friends through ostomy events
Some of these friendships have been enhanced since doing The IBD and Ostomy Support Show (a chat show where we talk about ostomy related topics) every Thursday at 8pm with other advocates; Steve, Louise, Natalie and Rachel. Since getting involved I have not only learnt so much about how other people with stomas live, but also gained some fabulous friends along the way.
Going to ostomy events, like those held by The Purple Wings Charity, has also enabled me to gain friendships and meet those I talk to online in real life. Like Lauren, the founder of the charity, or Jasmine of Jasmine Stacey Collection. Both have become some of my closest and most trusted friends since I met them at a stoma event last year.
Socialising with other ostomates
I recently stayed overnight at my friend Natalie’s place, who has a stoma, so that we could go out for dinner and to a show. Believe it or not, this was the first time I had stayed overnight somewhere with another ostomate! Her boyfriend also has a stoma, so I’m not sure if she fully understood the novelty of the experience for me.
I really enjoyed the absolute ease I felt at not thinking “oh no my bag is hanging out” or worrying about leaks, which I happened to experience the next morning. I simply just felt like my ostomy mishaps were a completely normal thing which for me they obviously are, but when socialising with those without an ostomy it isn’t to them - unless they are your partner or family.
I couldn’t imagine my life without the amazing friends I have made in the ostomy community and I know of many others who feel the same with their group of friends. It is nice having your friends in “real life” but your “virtual life” ones can be just as important, especially when it comes to adjusting to your diagnosis or having your ostomy.