Do you feel abnormal because of your stoma?
I read a post recently where someone wrote how they no longer felt normal with a stoma because their anatomy no longer works like it did before. I feel like this is such a shame. It’s also very different to how I feel about myself – however, each person is entitled to ‘off days’ and to their own view about themselves and their ostomy.
My ileostomy has made me feel more normal
Due to being sick since I was very young, I always felt like I was missing something. I didn’t truly know myself or what I could achieve because my disease took over every aspect of my life in some way. It robbed me of my teenage years - where you normally ‘find yourself’ - and it hindered my education because I was off school for half of my GCSE years and then kicked out during my A-Levels for poor attendance (even though my grades were actually good). I felt a lot of hatred towards my body which showed itself through eating disorders, depression, mood swings and anxiety. The medications for all of those things gave me side effects that actually made me feel even worse than the Ulcerative Colitis did.
Since having my stoma I have started to regain my health
Yes; dehydration, fatigue, risk of blockages or sore skin and leaks aren’t what I anticipated or ideally wanted to have to deal with in my life…but that is so much better than the constant constipation, rectal bleeding, leaks from my rectum and debilitating stomach cramps I’d known before. My stoma has allowed me to be more hands-on with my daughter (and now my newborn son) than I could ever have dreamed possible for me. I still have days where my stoma can be a pain but these are now few and far between – which I am truly thankful for.
Having my ileostomy allowed me to fall pregnant
We got pregnant incredibly quickly once I had my stoma, which I think shows how much my body had been trying to deal with my disease over the years. When I had a Jpouch, I wasn’t able to determine when I was in flare as these presented themselves differently and I struggled to learn my body’s patterns. After struggling so much to fall pregnant with the Jpouch, my stoma made me feel like a normal person by being able to conceive naturally. Now, I am able to be the mum and wife I always hoped I could be. I know, though, that I was lucky - all surgery comes with risks that can’t always be foreseen so, unfortunately, some women are the opposite and unable to conceive after having their ostomy.
I feel like I have a sense of self again
Now I have far less anxieties – such as over using the toilet at other people’s houses or in public restrooms. No, I don’t use my bum like a normal person but, after having what I saw as a defective bum for more than half my life, I am glad for my stoma. I have no more worries about bleeding and ulcers (a particular issue for me when a flare was bad). I am no longer constantly in pain and I can eat food without worrying whether I am going to be in pain shortly after or not - which is an amazing feeling. Feeling so much better has improved my mental health as I no longer feel so depressed. I am truly grateful for my stoma – it allows me to finally be ME.