Today is world ostomy day!
World ostomy day for me is a day to celebrate my survival, appreciate my stoma, demystify stoma owning and to show the world how truly un-scary ostomy life is...I might even try and squeeze a gift or a dinner out of it too! Hahahahaha
Pre op I never thought I’d be me again, or happy again or that I’d see my friends again. At a time when I was fighting with everything I had to stay alive, I was also planning to fade myself out and just keep in touch via text and email, 100% true story. It felt so overwhelmingly awful a prospect that I truly couldn’t picture myself being capable of socialising ever again. I’d have my close family and that’s it.
That wasn’t to be my story as it turns out. I love my life! I even love my stoma. It doesn’t rule my life but it certainly saved it and enhanced it, I go where I want, I do what I want and really joyfully, I eat what I want!
Something inside me change and life exploded into full technicolour after my APR (Abdominoperineal Resection - a major operation to create a permanent stoma. A stoma just means the opening. In my case my stoma is a Colostomy, an opening from my colon (large bowel/ large intestine). Others could have an Ileostomy, an opening in the ilium (small bowel/ small intestine) or a Urostomy, an opening from the bladder (thankfully there’s just one word for bladder!...has anyone got any idea why there are so many words to describe ones bowels? Answers on a postcard please. hahahahaha).
My Colostomy has opened up the world to me. I hadn’t noticed but over the years of being very ill, in excruciating pain and bouts of diarrhoea due to undiagnosed cancer my world had shrunk, I hadn’t noticed, I thought I was living life to the full but I wasn’t really able to. There were limitations. Some physical, some emotional. Fear of accidents was so great it held me back.
It was only after recovery from surgery (a long and arduous journey it was too. I’m a very impatient inpatient) that I felt like I was stronger than ever before and was determined to live my best life!
I felt bold and fearless. I am a survivor!
For me body positivity and empowerment doesn’t come from wearing a bikini and flaunting it on insta. It came from the realisation that I feel good about being me and that I bloody well can if I want to! That I can hold my own in the brutal world of perfection.
Because what you own - your sack of skin and bones may not be the air brushed perfection that social media dictates, but it’s your perfect body. It may well be bigger and baggier, taller, skinnier, shorter and more scarred than you’d prefer but the way I look at it I think it’s heaven, it holds all my organs in to absolute perfection and so far it’s done a great job staying alive.
It’s not about looking THE best it’s about looking and feeling YOUR best.
When I look at photos of me posing up a storm in my bikini on the beach I don’t hold it against Victoria secrets models and weep.
I look at it and think god it’s amazing that I made it! I survived, my scars and bag are my badge of honour, I’m here and I’m happy!
I don’t have time to compare it to someone else because they haven’t lived my life experiences.
There are very few naturally model like women or men come to that on the planet. It takes a lot of hard work, abstinence and dedication. I couldn’t even begin to contemplate how awful that would be, seriously, I can’t envy them, I do admire them, yes they are startlingly beautiful and thin, oh so thin, but at what cost? If I go an hour without food I get a bit heady hahahahaha, a life of no cake is not for me.
Kate Moss recently recanted her famous line that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”...and I tell you why, because when she was in her hey day she had to abstain from anything and everything yummy and believing in that mantra suited the life she was living.
But us mere mortals and muggles, we know and knew all along that EVERYTHING tastes as good as skinny feels hahahahaha. Take something as simple as just a loaf of bread. I’ve been known to plough through a loaf of sourdough topped with salty butter in one sitting, total and utter buttery heaven.
Kate love, get your chompers round that and you’ll know for absolute sure you were wrong. Hahahahaha. There’s freedom and a full life in not being the Instagram dictionary definition of perfection.
I’m very proud to have recently been featured a couple of times on the insta site Ostomyinspo. It’s an anthology of women with stomas rocking their bods with pride. I’m so proud to stand alongside those other women. Happy to spread positivity and encouragement of stoma-ing, for a very good reason. Before I had my op I thought it was the most disgustingly horrific thing I’d every heard of. I’d only ever known old people have a stoma. And I couldn’t picture my 36 year old self with one.
Fast forward to the day after my op, where I fell in love with my little life giving blob of inside-out bowel. To now, where I feel confident and more importantly, content (even if you think oh my god why’s she proud of that body?!?? That’s ok, that’s my whole point. It’s not about what anybody else thinks, it’s about how you feel about you that counts).
I feel emboldened, empowered, I feel lucky and grateful to be alive and I truly feel it’s almost a duty to pass on positivity about my experience with my colostomy. Because nothing is as bad as you imagine it to be, and even on the trickiest, leakiest days it still beats the alternative.
How would I sum up having a stoma? It’s different to how life was, but it’s my normal now, and well, I like it. It’s made some life situations far better...yes, of course, it has its down sides but my brain simply reset itself to not notice that aspect, I’m not in denial, I’m simply not a dweller, I just prefer to focus on the positive. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, my experience of stoma life has been fantastic. I now live a very good, full and bowel pain free life.
I will never again have that cold sweat of dread that I need the loo NOW!...with every second ticking by of cramping, knowing you’re just about to have a massive, mortifying, gut wrenching explosion.
I find the fact that I will never suffer that again incredibly comforting, prior to my diagnosis with cancer the fear of this kept my world incredibly small.
I’m off to India in February for a trip of a life time and I feel happy and confident that I won’t get caught short at any time, this brings me great comfort...Chris? well he’s on his own for this one hahahahaha
Six months after my AP resection I was on a plane headed to Cuba, and that lust for travel has grown and grown, I have been to more places in the last 8 years than I ever did in the preceding 36.
As I’ve said ever since my op ~ Have bag, can and will travel!
I haven’t got the best body in the world, but it’s the best body I’ve got.
Life is too short and too incredible to hide away.
*please feel free to like and share xx