HOW I DID IT is an ongoing series where readers share firsthand experiences living with an ostomy.
Some of the biggest concerns for ostomates, especially in the beginning, are dating and intimacy. I had these same concerns.
Can I date with an ostomy? How long should I wait to tell someone I have an ostomy? Will they be accepting and supportive? Or will I be rejected? Will sex be the same?
I am happy to report a positive experience. The recent date I went on went well because he asked me out again.
During a conversation on our second date, I vaguely mentioned having to write a bio about myself. Then he asked who I had to write it for. I figured him asking about was as good as any to open up about my ostomy, and went for it. I explained that it was for an article in the Carmichael Ostomy Association’s newsletter who had asked me to share my story and wanted to help promote my blog site.
I decided I would tell him earlier on rather than later. I’d practiced in my head how I was going to bring it up and what I would say. But in the spur of the moment, all of that went out that window and I spoke from my heart, telling him about the struggle with ulcerative colitis, kicking my colon out, getting an ostomy, and naming it Coltrane. When I finished, he asked me if he could give me a hug and told me he didn’t think any different of me. Whew! What a relief!
He asked me a few questions about Coltrane. I showed him my bag (he has a weak stomach, whoops), then I had him watch the Tosh.O video about ostomies. I let him look around my website and he did a little more research. Keeper huh?! I couldn’t have asked for a better response. I’ve told tons of people about Coltrane but never a stranger whose response really meant something to me.
I’ve been reading a book called, “It's in the Bag and Under the Covers” written by ostomate Brenda Elsagher. It’s a collection of dating and intimacy stories from people with ostomies. I’m not the only one who’s had a really positive experience. This book is a fun, quick read, that’s super encouraging if you have any doubts about finding love with an ostomy.
Having an ostomy doesn’t define me, but it’s a part of who I am and I like to surround myself with people who accept all of me.