An Open Letter To My Stoma, 6 Months After Colostomy Surgery

I’ve never been ashamed to have you by my side.
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Dear Stoma (clever nickname yet to be determined),

It’s been six months since we’ve been together, can you believe it? Oh, how the time flies. I wanted to take a moment just to let you know what you mean to me, reflect on the past, and celebrate what lies ahead.

At first I wasn’t quite sure how to take you since you were kind of shy and didn’t say much. It was as if you were like a Kuato that was a bit too lazy to fully appear. It was a constant stress to know how to treat you and to make myself well again. When you first arrived I had so many questions on how to deal with you, treat you, and make sure you didn’t embarrass me with your unpredictability. Looking back on where I was then and how comfortable I am now is like world’s away. You pushed me mentally and physically to keep one foot in front of the other. You forced me to publicly proclaim and take pride in my new normal. This was truly the starting line of the comeback trail.

I’ve never been ashamed to have you by my side. As soon as the first day after surgery I was in the hallway doing the strut with my front butt, if you will. I’ve heard horror stories of those so embarrassed with their stoma that they didn’t leave home until they were able to get it reversed. I couldn’t imagine not being able to revel in the fact that I may have this, but it doesn’t make me any less of a person. In fact, it gives me a quiet satisfaction to know at this point that you don’t limit me AT ALL.

Jason McIntosh

It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive. - Springsteen

If I didn’t already talk about my digestive track enough, you’ve caused me to annoy the hell out of people by talking about it even more. I thought that was nearly impossible. I already enjoyed talking about poop and farts enough, but now I get to do so medically. Without a strong spirit and sense of humor this relationship would be impossible.

To others, the leftover scars may be shocking, but to me they’re barely noticeable. It’s almost like when the kid realizes he doesn’t see Mel Gibson’s imperfections anymore in “The Man Without A Face.” I wouldn’t want them to disappear because they tell a story in themselves and remind me of how hard I’ve fought through all of this.

You’ve brought a whole new community of people into my life. Folks from online ostomy groups, in-person support groups, nurses, doctors, and related businesses. I love being able to impart my knowledge on those that need answers or are just looking for someone to understand their situation. The opportunity you’ve given Jessica and I with Awestomy has been so exciting. To be able to help people feel more comfortable with their situation through ostomy apparel makes us strive for success every day. We are busting with enthusiasm for what we’ve got planned not only to make people feel cool with their ostomy (coolostomy?), but also the ideas for helping those in less fortunate situations that have to deal with this medical issue. WE. CAN’T. WAIT.

Finally, the biggest thing I can admit is, frankly, you saved my life. Without you being placed, I know deep down that I wouldn’t be here. To this point you’ve allowed me to get back to the full, abundantly joyful life that I had previous to being riddled with worry of what digestive issue I would deal with. You’ve brought loved ones even closer to me, and have given me the opportunity to help others and advocate.

Thanks for everything,


This post originally appeared September 6, 2012 on Awestomy.