I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 20 and I've been living with an ileostomy since 2008. The one phrase I’ve heard over and over again is...
“I don’t know how you do that. I could never do it.”
Occasionally, I’ve also heard...
“I’d rather die than have to live with an ostomy.”
The first one is understandable because it was scary for me to think about living with one. I wasn't excited about it and never said, "yeah I totally want to do that." The truth is, I went through surgery because I had to. It’s the hand I was dealt and it really came down to accepting an ostomy as my reality.
But the second one? "I’d rather die than have to live with an ostomy." That one blows my mind. Really? You’d rather die?? DIE??? Actually, STOP living???? For someone who doesn't have an ostomy, this confirms one very obvious truth on why you could say something so outrageous. You obviously have NO IDEA what it’s actually like to be an ostomate. At least to me it’s outrageous because I live with an ileostomy and most of the time I don’t even think twice about it.
I’d like to point out just a few reasons why living with an ostomy is awesome (and sometimes downright hilarious).
1) I’m still alive and symptom-free.
I’m just going to say this is the most obvious reason to me. I owe my life to ileostomy surgery, and for that, I’ll always be grateful. I'm in awe.
2) I never have to race to make it to the toilet.
For anyone who's had “the runs” where you literally have to RUN to the bathroom. That no longer exists for me. There is literally no urgency anymore. I simply empty my ostomy bag when needed. Awesome right?
3) When my stoma “farts” it doesn’t sound like a fart.
Have you ever accidentally farted at the most inopportune moment and wanted to just pass out from embarrassment? Well, I have. Thanks a lot, Crohn’s disease. But now with an ileostomy, my stoma noises don't actually sound like a fart. Plus, nobody else will smell anything (it's in the bag 😉) and they probably won’t even know what the noise was, much less who it came from. Awesome!
4) It takes hardly any time to "go" with an ileostomy.
How much time do you waste sitting on the toilet going #2? If you’re a person with inflammatory bowel disease or other digestive disorder, then it’s probably A LOT. With an ileostomy, that went away for me. I go into the bathroom, empty my bag, wash up, and I'm done. It literally takes me the same amount of time to empty, as it does to pee. That is awesome!
5) I don’t actually have to touch yucky public toilets.
Okay, so this is probably my favorite thing about living with an ostomy. You know when you walk into a public restroom and it’s DISGUSTING? And what about using a port-a-potty? GROSS! Then it occurred to me, I don’t actually have to touch it. I can lean over and empty into the toilet without ever sitting on the seat. How many of you can do that? Well with an ostomy, you can. It’s awesome!
I hope what I’ve shown you that not only is this life-saving surgery but that it can change your life for the better. YOU. CAN. DO. THIS. I promise.
Article credit: Life, Lemons and Lemonade.