I read a fantastic article by veganostomy.ca via C&S Ostomy Pouch Covers on Twitter yesterday. An article articulately, concisely and sensitively produced on an often tricky/awkward subject.
As the great Salt-N-Pepa said "Let's talk about sex, baby"...
I can only go by my own experience of having Chemo and Radiotherapy to treat my colon cancer prior to my AP resection, the treatment did the job of curing me but at the same time it caused devastating and lasting damage. I'm not going to go into the finite details of our life together, it's not for public consumption and I dare say you'll all breath a sigh of relief to hear that, But it's a subject matter that I think is worth pursuing as it can be a cause of great distress.
This particular article really spoke to me. For starters it said 'you are not alone', that in itself is reassuring in a world that can feel isolated and lonely at times.
I was a 36 when I was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer, my obvious intention was to survive, which meant there was going to be a long life ahead of me and I wanted as fulfilling a life as possible. After my operation there were two trains of thought running simultaneously, first was how do I recover from the lasting physical damage as well as trying to recover from the psychological effects of the visible difference to my body.
Weirdly I recovered from the visible changes to my body very quickly. I'm not saying a bag of poo stuck to your side enhances your physicality and sexual allure, of course it doesn't (although there's bound to be some out there that likes that sort of thing - what ever floats your boat, no judgment here).
I remember before my op I bought little outfits to wear for when we...you know...but I can't say I needed them as I instantly found peace with having a stoma as soon as I came round from my op. I know people often struggle to come to terms with it, and in all honesty I thought I would too but after my operation I felt bold, confident and somewhat invincible if I'm really honest, turns out they're really quite sexy qualities to possess.
The physical damage to my reproductive organs by the radiotherapy was harder to navigate (if you'll pardon the pun). But I was lucky, very lucky, I have a husband who puts me before anything and treats me like a queen, getting past obstacles is easier with him by my side, supporting me along the way. Life goes on and love finds a way round anything.
If you were struggling with the visible difference to your body then buying a saucy little number to cover you may help ease the burden of the aesthetic aspect of the stoma. Changing or emptying your bag prior may bring your some comfort and confidence, also playing some background music if your concious of possible noise.
Admittedly I wouldn't look quite like the model shown ;) age and gravity is no friend of this old broad. But you get the general gist of what I'm suggesting.
You can still be the sexy same old you that you've always been. Just believe in yourself. Easier said than done I imagine you'd be thinking, but vital to live a happy life after any body altering surgery. Be kind to yourself, praise yourself and give positive reinforcement. But more importantly, give yourself time.
I'm a very positive person. I know there are people that are far far worse off than me that would literally leap at the chance to swap lives. Which is why I can't feel down about any of my experience to date. I appreciate my experience mentally and emotionally has been very positive and I know it's not like that for everyone. There is no magic pill to make you feel good about yourself, but try and see yourself as others do, the amazing you!
The URL for the article is here https://www.veganostomy.ca/sex-intimacy-ostomy/ (just copy this into your browser) or the video is below is worth a watch for those struggling with intamcy after surgery, I highly recommend it, who knows, it may well unleash the goddess in you - 50 shades style... :0
*The video link contains information about sex and intimacy that some may find uncomfortable viewing. If that isn't for you then there are many other resources available for help and advice online, with hundreds of ostomy bloggers sharing their experiences to reassure and boost morale.
I wish you a well rounded, happy life, with the lines of communication open with your partner.