Let’s be real for a second… Having a stoma isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
I’m a firm believer in being real; with myself and those I share my story with. There’s an abundance of ‘positivity’ all over social media, and we see so many posts with ‘good vibes only’ or ‘just be positive’ attached to them, when in reality the photograph to go with these comments is just one in a million. Because no one ever takes just one photo; we adjust our body or stance, or get your boyfriend to lie on the floor to get that candid “oh I didn’t know you were taking my picture” pose! I’ve done it. I’ve stood in front of the mirror, taking a handful of photos or gotten my mum to take a million pictures in a restaurant until I’m happy with just one.
Even when we do show our bad days it comes with a tough motivational quote about pushing through and rising above it! I’ve done it [see that very post below]. I posted a photo when my bag leaked four times in one day, and regardless of the frustration and upset I felt at the time, I still put a comment on the post that was about not letting that bad day to effect me. When in reality, it really effected me. Bag leaks always effect me; they put me in a horrible mood and I’m alway anxious a couple of days afterwards; thinking it will leak again. I hated my bag for leaking so many times, but I also felt guilty for hating my bag. Every time my ostomy bag has leaked I post about it, but I’ve realised I do it in a positive way. I turn it into a positive, even when I don’t want to because I feel a degree of pressure to show how my stoma bag has made my life better all the time.
But bag leaks SUCK! They ruin your clothes, they hurt and they’re totally inconvenient. Getting one at home is bad enough, but when you’re in public and the only place to change it is in a disabled bathroom that hasn’t ever been cleaned, it’s really gross. And that’s when you’re prepared… I’ve been in a lecture, my bag leaked and I had to run home and change it; missing my lecture and ruining my jeans. It also hurts because getting poo on your skin burns. There isn’t a specific cause for a leak; they just happen. It can be anything from putting the bag on a tiny bit too much to the left, or eating a vegetarian dinner, or wearing a dress that is too tight. They’re totally random and to be honest, there isn’t a way to turn this into a positive; bag leaks are just sh*t (literally and figuratively).
There’s no doubt that I’m proud of my bagged body; I’m the fittest I’ve ever been and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved; however that doesn’t mean I’m always happy with my body. My bag has made my life better when comparing it to my UC-infested-Colon days, however if a fairy godmother appeared in a puff of glittery purple smoke and offered me the chance to have a healthy colon back, I would jump at the chance! Ultimately, self love isn’t a destination we reach and will love ourselves from then on. I have days when I don’t want to poo into bag. Immediately after surgery, I didn’t love my body: I was 5st but a dress size 12 because of the surgical swelling. I had scars all over my stomach and a wiggly worm intestine poking through my abdominal wall; something I still find hard to look at even a year and a half on. My legs were covered in stretch marks and I had hardly any hair. I had a huge moon-face that made me look like a chipmunk storing food for a million winters, plus acne that made my face burn. None of that was nice and none of that was fun. Not to mention the fact, my stoma surgery is stage one of possibly three. I will have to undergo the knife at least once, if not twice and that’s if it goes well; not taking all the possible complications into consideration.
My bag has done a lot for me and I genuinely feel like I am a much better and stronger person because of it, but I want to address the fact that it isn’t always a barrel-of-laughs. Even after being an ostomate for over a year now, I still have days when it gets to me. All those feelings and that negativity is ok because having a stoma is a big deal and pooing into a bag is a huge life adjustment at any age.
It’s ok to not always be totally in love with our bodies and sometimes telling me to “just be positive” makes me want to punch that someone in the face! I allow myself to feel this negativity, because it helps me understand my body better and sometimes all you need is a good scream or a good cry! I don’t have to be ashamed or feel guilty for it.
I want to be real with myself and the rest of the world that pooing into a bag isn’t always that glam!