When I first found out I was going to have a temporary ileostomy, I was terrified. Questions raced through my head: how will people react when I tell them? HOW do I explain to them what it is? What does this mean for dating? I was nervous and had many nights where I cried over the possibility of having this bag of poop attached to me for a year or more. I thought it made me unattractive and gross.
My mindset changed, however, when one day my ostomy nurse gave me a book called I'd Like to Buy a Bowel Please! Ostomy A-Z, by Brenda Elsagher. The whole book is anecdotes, poems, and funny one-liners that show the humorous side of coping with an ostomy. After reading that book, I had a whole new outlook on ostomies and how I would talk about my condition. In one of the chapters, I think I laughed the hardest when I read a warning from a woman who said not to burp your pouch on an empty elevator, because someone will get on at the next floor and they will comment on how it smells like something died in there.
My family has always been one that's down for a good old fart joke. The more bathroom-related, the better. Now I have an even better excuse to make poop jokes and laugh about it! And if you really think about it, many ostomy-related things are kind of funny. Like when I'm sitting in the quiet section of the library or in church and my stoma rips a big one. I can't control it, so I just have to own up to the sound, ignore it, or tell my stoma to stop being rude and interrupting. The last time I was recovering from a bowel obstruction, my stoma was the noisiest it has ever been. I woke up my friend who was half-asleep at the time because of how loud my stoma farted!
I want to educate as many people as I can about Inflammatory Bowel Disease and ostomies, and humor is the way I connect with them. For me, I don't see another option of how to talk about it. I'm just open and blunt. I also use humor as a way to transition into a more serious discussion about how an ostomy works and the reason why I had the surgery. I find that when I approach the topic this way, most people are willing to open up and ask me questions that they normally may not.
Actually, the people I know who are willing to talk about poop are the ones who feel most comfortable being themselves around me, LOL. Try it. It'll make for a more relaxed, and more hilarious connection.
This post originally appeared April 5, 2017 on Sincerely Stephanie.