Coming to terms with an ostomy is a rigorous process. It takes patience, diligence and careful consideration. One day you’re a healthy 25 year old, planning an engagement party for your best friend, and then next day you’re hospitalized because your own body is betraying you. And then the after that you have an ostomy. Suddenly you’re “healthy” again but your world is upside down as you come to grips with this hurricane of a journey.
I like to think that I handled my journey quite well. I looked on the bright side, I opened up and communicated, I joked and laughed through the tears. Staying positive was the best thing I could have done. I tried to remind myself of the gratitude I felt for having a functional, healthy (although different) body that was capable of living again. I had been sick for years and there was no time to be wasted grieving about the fact that I now had an ostomy. It was time to start living.
But let me be clear: life is a balance. And I don’t think that staying positive is as easy as it looks. I didn’t wake up one day and think, “I’m happy about this.” No. It took meaningful thought to really recognize the trauma, the resilience, the strength, the growth and the changes. I don’t think I could really distinguish the positivity without first identifying the pain. Pretending that I was thrilled to be walking around with a bag of human waste on my stomach isn’t genuine. Pretending to “love” my stoma and be happy to adapt to a new ‘’normal’’ isn’t honest.
What I was happy about though was how incredible science was and how quickly the human body can adapt. How open my people were to asking questions and sticking by me. For being strong enough to work again. To connect with other ostomates and make new friends. To develop my own sense of compassion to others who carry their own baggage. How I was fortunate and privileged enough to travel that year. To somehow inspire others to share their own stories of acceptance. That’s what made me happy. That’s the positive
Coming to an acceptance isn’t about showing off a new found body. It’s about realizing that what you went through was damn hard, but somehow you came out on the other side. It’s about being okay with not being okay. It’s about saying aloud, “this sucks” but then saying, “I’m proud of myself.” Accepting an ostomy is about being mad at the universe for handing out a bad hand, but coming back stronger than ever.
I don’t have an ostomy anymore. Just the scars. But I’m proud of them. They’re part of me now. My scars are only a small part of my story, just like my tattoos, or new hairs or clothes or smile. Just like an ostomy, they don’t change who I am, but only make me a little bit more interesting. That’s acceptance. You can’t see stars if you don’t stand in the dark.
Brought by our partner: B Braun