Book Review: The Ostomy Life

Sometimes we wonder about the what-ifs. What if I want to travel, is it possible with an ostomy? What if I want to swim, will the bag leak? What if I want to date, will they turn me down because of my ostomy? These are the questions (along with many more) we hear from people new to ostomy life and others who are contemplating the surgery.

The Ostomy Life by Dave Matthew Jordan is a 43-page read that’s chock full of great content and presented in a way that's easy-to-understand. Featuring over 30 topics, this book is a guide for you to learn from Dave’s personal knowledge and understanding of living with an ostomy. Mixed in with the messages on dignity and virtues, is practical advice and real-life situations. I particularly enjoyed the "Live Deep" and "Travel" sections.

There are several books written by ostomates which describe the author’s journey prior to having surgery, but Dave’s experience differs. He received a permanent ileostomy at 3-weeks-old because of Hirschsprung’s disease. “I can only speak from the perspective of someone who has never known what it’s like not to have an ostomy,” he writes.

We asked Dave about the process of writing, his adventures, and other advice from 36 years of living with an ostomy.

Before writing this book, were you open about having an ostomy?

DMJ: I've had friends who've known me for years that never knew about my ileostomy or that I had Hirschsprung's. I didn’t share my story with everyone — not out of fear of what they would think, but rather it just never came up. The only time I'd stress is when I had to bring it up on dates. Then I remind myself that if they like me, they'll accept it.

You write about living to the fullest. What are some of your ventures?

DMJ: I've been cliff-jumping in Laos, mountain climbing in Scotland, and swam in the oceans off the coast of Argentina. I've lived a full life thanks to my ostomy — and continue to live it. 

What motivated you to write the book?

DMJ: We all have different bodies and challenges and questions. For a long time, I considered different topics and subjects but, in the end, wrote what I know from my own life and the experience of others. Most off, I hope someone, somewhere, will find it useful and remember they are not alone.

Dave's book is a straightforward and practical guide, aimed at new ostomates but is also useful for friends, family, or caregivers who want to offer help and support. He never claims to be an all-knowing expert, instead, he encourages others to trust their instincts and do what’s best for them. 

The Ostomy Life is available in paperback and Kindle. For more good reads, check out our book club list.