One of the recurring topics when I talk to new ostomates is ACCEPTANCE! I compare it to the grieving process, because you are grieving for your "normal" bowel movement. Some of the steps can overlap, depending on a person's progress. In the dictionary, the definition of acceptance is "an act of believing or assenting". To me, it's this magic that makes change possible! After all the stress, the anger or the denial period is over (you can name any emotions you feel when learning about your surgery), it's up to you to see the positive in the situation. I'm not saying it's easy or that you'll be able to see it right away. What matters is to do your best, because it's more than enough! We know that it is a difficult adaptation. Be patient and nice to yourself.
I really liked the book Faire la paix avec soi, un nouveau départ, by writer and speaker Marc Gervais (www.MarcGervais.com). He states that "no matter the path towards improvement you are faced with, move forward. Sometimes, you only understand pain after going through the changes it brought. You will have to go through changes imposed by life, and it's up to you to get used to them quickly despite your fears and discomfort. Change is inevitable and part of our lives, so you might as well get used to it and accept it." There are a lot of books on acceptance and grief. You just need to find a writer who inspires you!
It's very important to follow your intuition and listen to your inner voice. The situation you're in will always be unique, and you can't compare it to that of your neighbour or the people you see on social media. You can however choose the people who inspire you! I recently met someone very inspiring. They had the choice of undergoing surgery to remove their ostomy, but they chose to keep it. Why? Because they wanted to move forward. Their life was changing for the best and they didn't want to risk undergoing another surgery. Because of this, they made invaluable encounters and opened up to a new world. As for myself, I like to read Matin Magique when I wake up. (www.matinmagique.com) It's truly inspirational. I encourage you to take a look at it!
Don't be afraid to communicate. Confirm your impressions in order to avoid blocks, misunderstandings, frustrations, etc. Talk about your fears about your ostomy, sexuality and self-acceptance, but also talk about your aspirations and delights. You could be suprised by how others view you, and by how your partner, your family and your friends accept you. Communication is the basis of a good relationship. Be grateful for your life and the people who are in it. And don't forget to be thank them!
During follow-up meetings I can talk about the process of adaptation with my patients. That's when we talk about lingerie or other products, and about tips and tricks that can help them with their adaptation process. Sometimes, little miracles happen during these meetings! Lately, I gifted a PAULA underwear (thanks to a generous donation) to a woman who underwent an emergency surgery. She thought she was done with her temporary ostomy, and now she had a permanent one that was pretty high on her stomach! I had the good fortune to see the joy and relief on her face when she noticed that the underwear hid everything. It's a small gesture that can give a lot of confidence to someone.
I am proud to witness the changes that happen in the lives of my patients.
This article is brought to you by Premier Ostomy Centre