Can you recall that intensely anxious dread that weighed you down as you slumped into junior high with a big ole shiny zit on your face? Hoping no one would notice, but certain they would — knowing they'd point and laugh? Feeling your face burn with searing embarrassment?
Now imagine you have a new poop arrangement. Through a hole in your stomach. And you go to school every day hoping no one finds out.
Most teens are petrified of wearing the wrong shoes in junior high, much less actually being bodily "different." Having an ostomy through those already painfully awkward years isn't easy.
But Eilidh Gow did it.
Now 21 and a filmmaker in Scotland, she recently created a video for BBC The Social to talk about her life with a stoma. She describes feelings of isolation from a very young age (her first surgery at age 3) because the disease wasn't polite conversation. While the other kids talked openly about their asthma, diabetes, or other ailments, she felt like hers had to be hidden away.
Obviously, this had a big impact on her. Not only was she "different" but it was her bowels. You know, that gross thing nobody is supposed to talk about?
As a result, she says that through much of her early school years and into secondary school (junior high), she was very reserved and shy.
But then one day…
"Suck on that, butthole people."
Eilidh (pronounced Ay-lay) decided that a stoma wasn't something to hide or be ashamed of. She embraced it (and herself) and even started going out of her way to show it off. And why not? It's a red badge of courage.
(Speaking of which, Eilidh's mom creates and donates these awesome Buttony Bears that proudly display a red "button" stoma to help raise awareness of ostomies and to help children learn about and adapt to their own stomas.)
Eilidh says a huge burden was lifted once she began opening up. Her body confidence "skyrocketed" when she finally started talking about bowel disease and life with a stoma. The sense of shame she once felt turned into defiant pride.
Today, her message is loud and clear. Bowel disease is not a taboo subject and nobody should ever feel like they need to keep their stoma a secret. In fact, as she points out in the video, you probably know someone with a stoma and your stereotypes are probably making them uncomfortable. So, for real, suck on that, butthole people.