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10 Reasons My Life With a Stoma Is Great

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Like anyone facing surgery including the removal of some pretty major organs, I was pretty scared and uncertain leading up to my surgery. What would life be like? How would I manage? Would my quality of life improve?

I had exhausted all medical avenues. Surgery was imminent. My large intestine (including the rectum) and anus were so inflamed due to Crohn’s disease, I decided to have them removed (a procedure called a pan proctocolectomy). I would be living with a permanent ileostomy. My small intestine would be rerouted through an opening (or stoma) in my abdominal wall, where poo would exit my body into a nifty little bag adhered to my stomach around the stoma, to be emptied and changed regularly.

At first I was pretty unsure about my new stoma and what it would mean for me. I’ve been living life with an ostomy for almost three years now, and whilst it has its challenges and takes a bit of getting used to, for me it truly has been a blessing and has given me my life back.

So here are my top 10 reasons life is great with a stoma:

1. Freedom.

No longer does life revolve around being close to a toilet. No longer are the bathrooms the first thing I scope out whenever I go anywhere. I can do all those things I love without the fear of having an accident. A sense of freedom returns as you return to doing all those things you love but perhaps can’t do in the middle of a bad inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) flare. Overseas holidays, concerts, road trips, going for long walks, shopping, going out for dinner — all become so much easier.

2. You can literally poo anywhere!

I love the fact that you can go anywhere — on the train, sitting at your desk at work, in bed, at the dinner table, midway through a conversation. And unless he decides to get a little noisy, usually no one is the wiser!

3. Less = More.

Having a stoma can mean less of so many things that you want less of. Less doctors and hospital visits, less medication, less side effects, less pain, less anxiety, less worry, less reliance, less stress. Less of these things means more of the good things. More independence, strength, resilience, money in the bank account, confidence, and more time and energy to spend on better things!

4. A license to tell as many fart and poo jokes as you like!

5. A new companion.

Your stoma is there for you. With you always and everywhere. I care for it, talk to it, protect it. I also refer to my little guy as my little buddy. He is there for me through thick and thin!

6. A healthier and happier life.

For many of us, a stoma is lifesaving. You have probably suffered with a serious illness, whether an IBD, bowel cancer, or something else, and ostomy surgery was needed to make you better. Having a stoma can be tough and difficult to adjust to, but hopefully for most of us, surgery leads to a significant improvement in our overall health and quality of life. I think being healthy definitely contributes to our happiness (and vice versa).

7. An excuse to eat jelly beans!

If your output gets a bit too liquid and runny, you have the perfect excuse to eat jelly beans, and peanut butter and marshmallows! Or any of the other awesome foods that help thicken our stool or slow ostomy output. Do remember though, a balanced diet including all food groups is important, too.

8. We win top prize for the stinkiest poos.

If “most stinky poo” existed in the Guinness World Records, I believe an ostomate would definitely take the title. OK, so this may not be a great thing, but there’s not much we can do about it, so may as well make the most of it! I have an odd sense of pride in having the poo with the greatest perfume in my household. Let’s just call it payback for all the times my husband has ponged out the bathroom for me!

9. An opportunity..

To share your experiences, help others, spread awareness, increase understanding and meet lots of like-minded, awesome people in the process.

10. A greater appreciation for life and understanding of personal values.

Many of us with a stoma have been through some pretty life-changing experiences and hardships — with our health, careers, relationships and life in general. I’ve done a lot of soul-searching in the lead up to and since having my ostomy surgery. I definitely appreciate life more, and especially value the little things. It’s helped me reassess my priorities and reevaluate what is really important to me (for the better). I have closer and stronger relationships with those I love, and a greater sense of gratitude for life and the joy of living.


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Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: May 10, 2016
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