My Ostomy: Pros and Cons
I’ll be completely honest and say that I did not have an ostomy bag for that long. I believe it was around three months, and most of that time I was in the hospital.
For the time that I did have it, I really thought it was not that bad. That being said, it took a lot of getting used to, but Crohn’s patients don’t worry, there are worst things in the world than an ostomy bag.
When do people with Crohn's need an ostomy bag?
I know Crohn’s patients need an ostomy bag if the surgery requires you to have part or your entire colon removed. Some people can have a J-Pouch put into place, which will allow you to have a surgery to reverse the ostomy.
On the other hand, some people can’t have their ostomy reversed, and they have an ostomy bag for the rest of their lives. There are variations to the ostomy. They come in different shapes, sizes, placements (on your stomach), and even have different names! But they all have the same purpose.
What is an ostomy?
An ostomy actually refers to the opening in the body in which your waste can discharge from. A lot of Crohn’s patients have one because they are resting their colon, or allowing it to heal in between surgery.
The ostomy site is circular, with a “stoma” sticking out of it. A stoma is the end of the large or small bowel that can be seen poking through your abdominal wall. It sort of looks like the end of your thumb sticking out of your stomach. So now that I gave you’re a description, lets dive in and see what are the good things about an ostomy site.
What it was like to have an ostomy
When I had the ostomy, I was able to multi-task. I was able to use the bathroom, and teach at the same time. Since the waste went directly into a bag, which was underneath my shirt, nobody ever knew when I was doing a number two. I thought that was pretty cool. It was weird not having to sit down to use the bathroom, but I got used to it.
Negatives to an ostomy bag
A con that I noticed with the ostomy was changing the “wafer” and the actual bag. Every few days you have to clean the site, and take off the adhesive that keeps the bag in place. When I was changing/cleaning the site, my skin would often get red and irritated because the waste residue that sat on the sides of the wafer would be very acidic. It would burn but the pain was short lived.
Another con is that the stoma has a mind of its own. It’s like “Old Faithful,” and it doesn’t have an alarm to warn you when your waste wants to come out. I had to be very careful when I removed the bag, because waste would squirt all over the place. Sorry to be graphic, but its true!
The ostomy might look weird and different at first. You might feel self-conscious about being around others especially when it comes to becoming intimate. I will admit it is an adjustment but it is doable.
Getting acclimated to an ostomy
I was actually with a female who had an ostomy, and we had a wonderful relationship at the time. There are classes that you can take that can get you acclimated with the ostomy. I know people who live totally normal lives with an ostomy bag. You can do it! Just put your mind to it!
What is your comfort level disclosing your IBD to your employer?