I AM A NURSE AND AN OSTOMATE
I got my nursing degree this past May. I can now practice my profession in a field I am passionate about: surgery. Every day I see myself through my patients. I see nasogastric tubes, abdominal wounds with drains, intestinal obstructions, infections, abscesses, fistulas and all types of stomata, like ileostomies, colostomies and urostomies. I take great care of my patients. I listen to their worries and try to help them the best I can. However, they have no idea about the pouch on my abdomen. I see myself through them, but would it be therapeutic for them to see themselves through me?
I thought long and hard about the role my ostomy and my medical history could have in the way I treat my patients. I decided to not talk about it, because no one experiences it in the same way. Everyone go through their journey differently, and everyone has to face their own obstacles. However, I decided to use my own experience to help them. I came to understand that I didn’t need to talk about my pouch to help them recover.
Sometimes it’s extremely frustrating for me however, because I hear all kinds of comments, like: “Oh well, I only have to deal with the pouch for four months. I’ll resume my dailies activities after”. I’ve also heard nurses say things like: “I really wouldn’t be able to deal with all this. The ostomy and all the tubes…”. It frustrates me and it annoys me, because I went through it and I survived. Most people don’t know about their inner strength, their resilience and their survival instinct.
My colleagues don’t know about my story either. It doesn’t make me any different from them. I care for my patients the same way they do. I don’t want them to see me differently.
I keep this little detail to myself. Not because I’m not proud of it or because I don’t want to help my patients. I do it because I think this detail won’t be beneficial nor therapeutic for myself or my patients. I want to be like every other nurse, except for this empathy I feel towards patients who go through something similar to what I experienced.
I decided to spend the next two years studying to become an ET nurse. I want to work with ostomates. My ultimate goal would be to make a difference in multiple lives. I want to tell them that their ostomy definitely doesn’t prevent them from leading a normal life, and that life goes on. I want to break taboos and make this physical condition normal.
I am an ostomate nurse. I am who I am.
This article is brought to you by : Centre de stomie de la Mauricie