I actually only told a handful of people that I had an ostomy. It never crossed my mind to share this information with others, especially if they weren't in the same health circles as me.
We all look at things in different ways and respond differently. Our backgrounds, experiences, and personalities shape our views and contribute to how we respond.
Sometimes I think I'm alone in my views.
Perhaps it's hindsight from past health battles and navigating all the newbie issues. Hindsight always seems so apparent after making it through to the other side and sometimes it's hard to remember what it was like to be new with FAP (Familial Adenomatous Polyposis). Also, I tend to just do things on my own. I'm reminded of all this when I'm asked, “How do you decide who and what to share with others about health details and ostomies?” I've never quite understood this question, probably because I didn't really struggle with it. The only people who know all the details are my parents.
I always followed the rule of share what's comfortable.
I found it bizarre when told stories that a child's entire class or school were told the child had an ostomy. I never understood that, but my parents also didn't openly share my health details with others either. There's no wrong or right way about sharing health information. We all share in our own ways and based on our sharing philosophies, other's will seem different and even odd to some.
Another sharing I've never been comfortable with is the open visibility of an ostomy. I don't think anyone should be ashamed of having an ostomy, it's just something I was always very modest about. I didn't think others needed to see me walking around with my pouch hanging out, I don't see the need in it. That being said, I do find the social awareness campaigns, such as Uncover Ostomy, to be very well executed in its portrayal and ability to raise awareness of ostomies and health issues. But we each choose to raise awareness and educate others in different ways and approaches.
Each approach will be best received by different groups.
I remind myself of this when I see ostomates doing public activities with their ostomy pouch exposed. I know the intent and I agree with the intent. I just chose a more timid route of education. It would be nice to be less inhibited, but I tend to stick to the philosophy that my health issues aren't everyone's business and not everyone needs to know everything. And those who I do share everything with, I think they probably wouldn't mind if I didn't always share everything. Ha-ha.
To each their own.
This post originally appeared October 25, 2013 on Life's a Polyp.