Chances are you have heard of someone living with an ostomy, you just did not know that is what it is called. An ostomy is a surgery that involves creating an opening that links someone’s urinary or digestive systems to an outside source, like a bag.
People might have ostomies for different reasons. They may also have different kinds of procedures. But the thing that brings people together is that there are some things that they want you to know about what it’s like to have an ostomy.
There is no shame in carrying a bag
Unless you suffer from an issue with your bowels, you might find it difficult to talk about your bowels. You might have been told that it is impolite when you were a child. You might have been told that it is just a bit gross. But the reality is, carrying an ostomy bag is nothing to be ashamed of.
One of the hardest parts of having an ostomy is in the beginning after you’ve just had the surgery. It is a life change that some people have a hard time coming to terms with. But when they have support from their community, it is easier to realize that there is no shame in carrying a bag. Waste is a fact of life!
Ostomies do not change you, just how you remove waste
You might not talk about it at the dinner table, but every single person on this planet removes waste somehow. The President of the United States, Hollywood celebrities and your great aunt all have to do it sometime. People with ostomies remove waste too. They just do it a bit differently.
Having an ostomy can be a life changing experience. It can make people more comfortable and relieve so much pain. But it doesn’t change who they are.
They are the same person that they were before they had the surgery. They have the same hopes, fears, dreams and sense of humor. The only difference is that now they can go out their daily lives with a similar level of comfort to what you already enjoy.
People with ostomies don’t mind talking about it
If you have never had issues with your bowel movements, you probably don’t talk about them. But for those who have had the misfortune of inheriting bowels that do not work quite the way they should, they used to talking about it. They talk about it with their doctors, their parents, their partners and with other people if they have to.
People with ostomies do always not mind being asked direct questions about their experiences. In fact, they prefer it. The more comfortable people around them are, the less stigma is attached to the bag. This is better for everyone.
Do keep in mind that some people might think this is a private matter. Make sure that you read social cues before pressing on with this. Ostomy or not, not everyone likes to share!
Anyone can have an ostomy
Some people believe that it is only the elderly that have ostomies, but this is a myth! Even young children can need an ostomy.
Inflammatory bowel disease is one of the most common digestive diseases. It can affect anyone from the age of 10 on up. Lots of people who have Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis also end up having these procedures as well.
It doesn’t mean your life is over; it is just beginning
Having an ostomy is not something that people choose to have. It is often a procedure that happens when little else is working. But that does not mean that their lives are over. In fact, it means the opposite. For many people with ostomies, it means their life can finally begin.
There are some things that might have to change after the procedure. But these changes are as unique as the person carrying the bag. In fact, having an ostomy does not have to stop people from doing anything they want to do. As mentioned before, they still have the same hopes and dreams!
Unfortunately, some people sometimes start to have issues with self-esteem and turn to social media, going on a binge collecting Twitter followers. It’s not surprising that your confidence might take a hit if you have been sick for a while. This is why it is important for you to talk to people about their ostomies. Even if they’re feeling sad, you can remind them that now they have an opportunity to live a life that is more comfortable than before.
There are a lot of things that people with ostomies want you to know. The best thing you can do to support someone with an ostomy. The best thing you can do is to not treat them any differently than you did before.
Featured photo credit: Miss Shari via flickr.com