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My initial thoughts about living with a colostomy weren't altogether positive.

Can you smell that smell?

It’s amazing the things you get used to. If you told me eight months ago that I’d wake up at 3:30 in the morning with sh** on my stomach and think nothing of it, I would have called you a liar. A dirty liar, in fact.

But, waking up to discover just this very thing has become a part of my life. In a perfect world, there’d be no blowouts or leaks and everything would stay where it’s supposed to. However, as someone pooping in a bag attached to his stomach, life not working out perfectly all the time doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

smell meme

I’ve gotten used to it though. When the doctors first mentioned a colostomy bag it sounded like the worst possible thing in the world. It sounded like a life sentence of being gross and undesirable. I had heard of colostomies before and knew they were for incontinent old people who smelled bad.

I mean, seriously, poop coming out of my stomach? Really? Am I supposed to live like that? Just go ahead and end it now because my life would be over as I knew it.

But, I got used to it. Not right away, though. I was pretty depressed at times through those first few weeks. Some of my first thoughts were not being thankful I was alive, but being crushed that I’d never find love and no one would ever want me because of this stupid bag. Here I am, 34 and single and defecating into a bag. I gotta tell you, it doesn’t do much for the confidence.

And then they want you to change it. They want you to peel the bag off your skin and look at yourself in the mirror while you do it. The first time I had to do it myself I couldn’t stand the sight of the huge, gaping hole in my stomach. It was an awful experience. I shook, dripped with sweat, and tried to cover it up as quickly as possible. But I got used to it.

For a while, I still dreaded having to change it. What if I start going while I don’t have the bag on? What if poop starts pouring out of the hole while I’m standing in front of the mirror? Well, the what-ifs happened and, while never pleasant, they were never overwhelming. They were just another thing I got used to.

So when I smell that smell and wake up to find that my bag has spilled out, it’s a simple “darn it” and then getting up to fix it. I take off the old bag, wipe myself clean, wash up, and put on a new bag. Then go back to bed. Not a big deal. It doesn’t happen that often either, and I can usually trace it back to those all those beans I shouldn’t have had at dinner.

Yes, I’ve gotten used to having stool on my stomach. I’ve gotten used to peeling off a dirty bag and then staring at myself in the mirror while I put on a new one. It’s nothing now. It’s easy.

The worst thing I thought could ever happen to me has turned into just another ordinary aspect of life—one more reminder that life can be pretty sh**ty at times, but it’s almost never as bad as you think it will be.