11 Things You Didn’t Know About Ostomate Paul Riome

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You've probably read about his Grandma Mabel’s ostomy surgery in 1938 or maybe saw him on the cover of The Phoenix Magazine, but how well do you know Paul Roime? He's been inspiring ostomates to "live bigger" for over seven years. In 2009, Paul was diagnosed with rectal cancer and had permanent colostomy surgery.

“At age 59 I traded cancer for a colostomy. It was a good trade. Earlier detection with a colonoscopy may have 'saved my ass'. Get screened!”

– Paul Riome

We can live ordinary (even extraordinary) lives.

Connect with Paul at LivingBiggerWithColostomy.com.

From Nepal to Mt. Everest, his incredible climbing adventures keep getting bigger. We wanted to get to know him a little bit better. Here are 11 interesting things you didn't know about Paul Riome:

1. When I was 7-years-old I put a hook in my brother’s mouth.

Him and I were playing fishing in our back yard. I was the fisherman, he was the fish. To this day I don't know what possessed me. I guess I needed to 'set the hook'. I leaned back, snapped the rod, and 2 barbed hooks went through his lower lip. After a trip to the hospital to remove the barbed hooks, a brief family meeting concluded we had a lifetime ban on our fishing game.

2. I have a connection and respect for ravens.

These highly intelligent birds that can live up to 70 years. Every March, 2-3 ravens hatch on a cliff easily visible from my cabin. I watch their growth until they learn to fly and join the adults. I’ve left stale donuts and watched ravens carry them 1-at-a-time and hide them in trees (there is intelligence to thinking of the future). One smarter raven learned to put his beak thru a donut-hole then grab a second donut in his beak, and carry them 2-at-a-time!


Ravens are among the smartest of all birds with a reputation for solving complicated problems. Just like ostomates.

3. At age 8, I should have died on the freeway.

On a family vacation in California we stopped at a roadside rest area for a picnic. My mom told me to put something in the garbage can. The can she saw was about 10 feet away. The can I saw was at the roadside rest area on the opposite side of the freeway, across 6 lanes of traffic. I dodged vehicles traveling both ways, returning surprised to see the horror on her face as she realized I had innocently done exactly what she asked me to do.

4. I was the first hockey player in my hometown to wear a helmet.

Fifty years ago, nobody wore a hockey helmet. But I took a severe concussion while playing hockey (with bleeding from both ears and both nostrils, and 5 days in a hospital). My dad bought me a helmet (made of felt and leather), and gave me a clear choice - wear the helmet or don't play hockey.

With today's awareness of concussions and head injuries from hockey and football, this seemed like an obvious solution - but at the time it was radical and I missed the hair flowing when skating with speed. But within a few years, many players joined the helmet-on look.

There are penalties for not listening to your body. The importance of prevention - get screened!

There are penalties for not listening to your body. The importance of prevention - get screened!

5. My mom fired me as the baby-sitter when I was 11.

My mom went out for just 15 minutes and I was to take care of my three younger siblings. One sister drank a bottle of iodine, and my other sister burned concentric rings on her bare foot as she stepped on a hot burner on our counter-top stove. My brother was OK. Apparently a 1-out-of-3 success-rate did not meet the standards expected by my mom.

6. I rode on a palomino quarter horse.

When I was 15-years-old, I joined a local 4H program, competed in all the gymkhana events, and rode in the musical ride as mentored by the RCMP officers stationed in our town. In winter, I rode bareback and without a bridle - she was an amazing horse, responding to voice, hand and leg signals.

7. Hockey has been hard on my body.

I made a quick count of injuries during 57 years of hockey...

3 concussions requiring hospitalization, 12 broken bones, 3 shoulder separations, 2 missing teeth, 1 torn knee, and over 100 stitches.

A colostomy hasn’t changed that style.

Four months after ostomy surgery I was back playing hockey.

Four months after ostomy surgery I was back playing hockey.

 8. I worked as a driller & blaster.

For five summers while a university student I was an explosives expert. In a nickel mine at Thompson Manitoba, 5,800 feet (1 mile or 1.6 km) underground. Rough work, but I made 5X the minimum wage that most students worked for.

9. Social media is too fast for me.

I’m more comfortable canoeing or trekking and without cellphone or internet access. My lifetime favorite is Nepal.

Nepal, 2012 at Hogus Summits Gokyo Ri. There is a feeling of elation at reaching a summit.

Nepal, 2012 at Hogus Summits Gokyo Ri. There's a feeling of elation reaching a summit.

10. At age 16 I completed a 26-mile marathon - with no training or preparation.

I had moved from a small town to a big city, and on a whim thought it would be a fun outing. It’s been 50 years and I haven't run a marathon since.

11. My favorite quotation is...

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "Holy Shit, what a ride!"

Everything I could do before-colostomy, I could still do after-colostomy.

Everything I could do before-colostomy, I could still do after-colostomy.