Part of what makes some people nervous about having an ostomy is the worry that their life will be over and they’ll never get to do “normal” things again. I’d like to settle your nerves. I’ve lived a very normal life with an ileostomy since 2013. In fact, it’s been an amazing life filled with fun new experiences.
Here’s an incomplete list of things I did in my first year living with an ostomy. It’s incomplete because 365 days is a lot of time and I’ve done so many things that I simply can’t remember all of them!
1. Numerous 1-7 mile hikes
3. Met a number of new people & chose who got to know about my ostomy and who didn’t (those who I didn’t tell, never knew!)
4. Met a new guy and we started dating
5. Enjoyed intimacy
6. Went on vacation out of the country (first time to Mexico!)
7. Flew multiple times on airplanes (this includes going through security and customs)
8. Held down a full-time job
9. Ate out frequently (it was part of my job)
10. Participated in a 5k race
11. Played JustDance for Wii
12. Went to museums
13. Got asked “Where’s your bag? Did you take it off?!” (while wearing tight exercise clothes, mind you)
14. Went to a professional hockey game
15. Went on boat rides
16. Wore a bathing suit (high-waisted, and it was so cute!)
17. Laughed so hard I cried
18. Collected seashells and rocks off the beach
19. Watched a meteor shower
20. Started training Capoeira martial arts
21. Went to musicals and a symphony
22. Had a second surgery and changed my ostomy pouch in the hospital (to kick off my second year)
23. Completed the P90X3 exercise program
24. Traveled alone to St Louis for the UOAA 2015 National Conference
25. Rode the “High Roller” ferris wheel in Las Vegas (okay, it’s really slow)
26. Rode my bike to a baseball game
27. Took a wild food foraging class
28. Went bowling
30. Worked at a professional football game and a major golf tournament
30. Climbed a tree
I think this is a pretty good display of a “normal” life. And sure, there are activities I didn’t do, like snow-boarding, skiing, roller skating, crocheting, etc. But, the thing is, those aren’t really things I would have done without an ostomy either. Not only that, but just because I haven’t done those things doesn’t mean I haven’t met, spoken with, or read about ostomates who have done those things.
So, what have I learned in three years living with an ostomy? An ostomy only limits your life as much as you let it. If you live in fear of trying new things, you won’t ever know if you’re capable of them. Having ostomy surgery can be scary at first, but a beautiful life can exist beyond your surgery if you let it.
Follow me on Instagram @ostomyadventure to see more fun things I’m doing!