It’s not a secret that there’s a massive taboo around poo! We all do it, yet some of are so reluctant to talk about it! When I was 17 I was one of those people, bleeding from the bottom and I refused to acknowledge it for months. Buried my head in the sand, hoping it would go away but the opposite happened and I deteriorated and that was the start of my poo journey!
Fast forward a few months, waking up from my second major surgery, as I slowly became aware of my surroundings the first thing I did was pat my right hand side. To my horror, it was there… the dreaded bag! At this stage I was in ICU, when you wake up with a stoma it’s a strange experience getting used to farting from your newly formed stoma and not from your bottom. The first few times it happened I remember feeling like I shooting out of my bed. It takes a while to get used to the noises and the grumbles, at times I didn’t even register it was me. At first I refused to look at my stoma, I didn’t want to learn how to care for it. The nurses used to encourage me to try to find a name for it, like ‘Whinnie’. It took me one night after visiting hours and the nursing staff in handover, to look at my stoma. Panic struck as the bag needed changing, I pressed the buzzer but no one came quick. I didn’t want to be covered in poo so I took the leap. Got the supplies together like I was taught. At first I was heaving at the thought of seeing it and dealing with it on my own. As I peeled the adhesive away and I saw it in all its glory, all my disgust and worry floated away. It was small and petite, like a strawberry! I cried and I cried, not with horror but happy tears that this little thing had saved my life.
Here’s a picture of my stoma (Ileostomy) in all its glory. The word stoma/ostomy is an umbrella term meaning ‘mouth off’. There are three commonly known types of Ostomies; Ileostomy (Colon removed, made of small bowel) Colostomy (Made of large bowel) and Urostomy’s (stoma for urinary system).
This is what an ileostomy looks like post-operativly, over time the stiches desolve and the swelling goes down. I appologise if this offends anyone, its for educational purposes and I support full transparancy and will post of a similar nature in future.
I soon realised that although I loved this ileostomy and it saved my life, others did not feel the same way. When the word got out, a group of friends stopped visiting me and they avoided me like the plage. No text messages, cards or calls they completly deleted me out of thier lives. I was heartbroken and vulnerable, feeling no-one could possibly ever love or accept me. After my condition stabled, I was treated for intestinal failure (basically my guts refused to work due sepsis and peritonitis) at the time, I had this stoma with no poo coming out. When things did start moving, I noticed the nurses would argue amongst themselves who’s turn it was to help me clean myself up and change my bag. Taking care of a stoma takes time to perfect and at this time I was so critically ill, I needed help. To hear them laughing about the stench, the consistancy and my stoma in general it sent me to a dark place. My friends couldn’t handle it and neither could the nurses, how would I ever cope! Although, I lost the majority of my friends and family the ones who stood by me, made me blossom and helped me realise that life would go on!
My stoma I will have for life and I wouldn’t want it any other way! I can now poo sleeping, eating, partying and even sunbathing! Yes, it’s challenging! I still face being stigmatised, live on a special diet so I don’t risk getting bowel obstructions and I face the risk of incontinance a.k.a leaks! I can leak at home, in bed or even in a busy resturaunt! When leaks occur I feel like I loose all my dignity, it’s not a pretty sight. Imagine been covered in your own poo, it’s on your hands, skin and clothes! At first when leaks would happen I’d hibernate away from the world embarrassed and feeling deformed and far from attractive. As time has passed I’ve become hardened to the leaks, they give no mercy and can happen at any time regardless to time and location. So I find being prepared is the best solution. There’s a standing joke in my family that I’m always carrying big handbags, that’s because on a daily basis I have to carry round my medication, stoma supplies, spare clothing, spare knickers and toiliteries to freshen my self up! This way a leak won’t ruin my day and I’m not forced to abort the days activities.
If you’ve been affected by anything above or would like to get in touch with me to discuss it then please send me a message on email@example.com
For my next post i’d like to discuss myths and misconceptions related to stoma’s/Ostomy’s so if there is a question you’d like to ask or a myth needing busting. Contact me on the email above.