Is Life Over After an Ostomy?

Life is difficult for any normal, healthy person… but add a chronic illness like ulcerative colitis (UC) to it, and it gets even harder. You face challenges you never thought you would. You have to manage doctor appointments, medications, health insurance and figuring out the best treatment plan for you. On top of trying to manage your job, your household and anything else that comes from living your life.

When I was faced with needing a temporary ostomy, I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. I was scared. I didn’t want scars! I was too young for surgery! I can’t be bothered by this! I was able to avoid it for the first three years of my diagnosis, but now, here I was helpless and afraid.

I will never forget the day reality finally sank in. I was being prepped for the actual surgery and I broke down in tears. I’d had meltdowns in the days leading up to surgery, but until this moment, it didn’t feel real. After being prepped they put me under and when I woke up from surgery I was in a lot of pain, but it was different. It was no longer the pain of UC attacking my colon. My colon was gone. And I was free.

My husband was the first one to look at my ostomy. I was too drugged up to care or really know what was going on at the time. When the time came for me to look at it, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure how I was going to react seeing my intestines sticking out of my belly, but it actually wasn’t that bad!

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Over the next three months I learned how to change my appliance on my own and deal with leaks and yeast rashes. The best part about having my ostomy was that there was zero urgency like before. I felt like a new person. The only pain I was having was from my incision! My ostomy gave me freedom from the pain of UC. It gave me the ability to take back control of my life. Obviously, it isn’t ideal and I still wish I had a healthy colon, but after going through that experience, I can say with all confidence that I could easily go back to having an ostomy if need be.

There are those who are more timid about having an ostomy, and understandably so! There are some stigmas associated with having an ostomy. But there are ways to cover it up if you aren’t comfortable sharing that part of your life with others. This is something personal… something you don’t have to share until you are ready. The people who matter won’t think anything of it. An ostomy will show you who your real friends are. The people who don’t understand and refuse to even try to understand, aren’t worth your time.

Be proud of your ostomy. It is a freeing experience after living with the pain of IBD for so long. The worst part about it is learning how to live with and care for one. Once you get used to it, it becomes normal… second nature even. Not everyone has a successful experience with an ostomy, but in my experience and the experience of many of my friends, most people are quite pleased and have gone on to show great success with an ostomy.

Getting an ostomy isn’t the end of the world. Some people are very confident in that they proudly show off their ostomy – not caring what anyone thinks! Your ostomy is proof of your battle… of what you’ve overcome. It shows your strength. It shows your determination. An ostomy is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s something to wear with pride knowing that you survived despite your disease’s mission to destroy you.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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