Another instalment of The Stoma Series today. I wanted to talk about ways I’m coming to terms with having my new body. I was hoping this may help someone in a similar situation or even just be an interesting read for people who don’t know too much about life post-op or with a stoma. Here are a few ways that have helped me to come to terms with my new body.
Not just physically what it is but what it actually means for me and my life. Realising that you’re not offered a stoma if you don’t need one, especially someone of my age, made me realise that I did need one and that it would more than likely significantly improve my quality of life. My stoma nurse told me to try and not think of it as a foreign thing but as just a part of me that I’d never seen before, which is quite literally exactly what it is. It’s just a part of my insides brought to the surface. Everyone has a small intestine, just maybe not sticking out of their abdomen.
I have new questions every week. About the stoma, the skin around it, the insides of it, the products I can use, my output, the size/shape of it, the list goes ON. Whenever I have a question, I can give one of the stoma nurses a call and they’re more than happy to answer everything I need or book me in as soon as possible if it’s something that needs to be sorted in person. They are absolutely wonderful, don’t hesitate to contact yours if you’re struggling with something!
This has been really important for my mental recovery. Knowing that there are people who have needed to or are going to have a stoma with the same worries and fears as me. But also knowing there are people who have had a stoma and are living a completely normal life post-surgery. It’s so important to focus on the positives and envision that happy end goal for yourself.
Although I have connected to others with stomas, I’ve only actually spoken with one person who’s been in the same health situation as I have. There are a wealth of different reasons as to why people have to have a stoma. It’s been so lovely to talk to someone who’s had quite a similar health journey to me and at the same age, too.
Can you tell I have a bag in any of these photos? Because if I wasn’t me, I’d have no idea. Obviously everyone who takes any notice of me on social media now knows that I have one but clearly I don’t care otherwise I wouldn’t share it. I was standing in the kitchen the other day wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and my stepdad went, ‘Where’s your bag then?’. He seemed kind of baffled that he couldn’t see it at all.
I don’t just mean to other people but to my pre-surgery self, too. Of course I’m not going to look the same, my body has been through hell with severe illness and I’ve been through major surgery with a more than likely permanent ileostomy. I try my best to look at my body as just an outer shell of myself, which is exactly what it is. My body doesn’t show my achievements, my relationships, my hard work, my intelligence, gratitude, loyalty or (slightly brutal) honesty. I can’t say I fully love my body but who can? I’m trying to care less instead.
Have you ever had to adapt to a huge health-related change in your life? How did you cope with it?