How A Photo Brought Back Old Wounds

Last updated: February 2020

We celebrated National Ostomy Awareness Day in October. It was so amazing seeing all of my strong beautiful friends and even strangers, showing their scars and raising awareness for their conditions. Not only those impacted by ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease but all conditions, coming together to share and be inspired.

I could not be more proud.

Sharing your ostomy story

It takes a great amount of courage to share your story. There’s always been a great stigma against living with an ostomy and inflammatory bowel disease in general. People still aren’t comfortable with those conversations and many will try to silence us, but I am so grateful and happy to see my community prevail.

As I scrolled through the saturated hashtag on Instagram, I was overwhelmed with emotions. Both happy and sad: Happy to see people doing so well living with their ostomies. Happy that people are proving the world wrong about ostomies. Happy for understanding and a more empathetic community. Happy for change. But I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad by it all.

Living with an ostomy is hard

As someone who has lived with an ostomy, I know it is not as easy as social media portrays it to be. I know the people sharing their smiles and bags have faced great struggles. Long nights and early mornings. Living with an ostomy and pre-ostomy days, they’re hard to get through. I was sad to see that so many people have had to live with some kind of condition that had such a great impact on their lives that they required surgery. Some temporary, some life long.

Hope that things will get better with IBD

One photo stood out to me the most. It was as if this girl, this young lady, was the 2019 version of my young self. She had her ostomy marking on her stomach and captioned, explaining she was ready for surgery! I saw this post and tears came to my eyes. It reminded me so much of a time when I was struggling so badly, the only thing I could do was hope. Have you ever been in a place in life where you were so down and out that things could only get better? A time where you would have given anything just for the slightest bit of relief and freedom.

Looking at her photo just brought back so many memories. Good and bad. It reminded me of how far I’ve come. It reminded me to appreciate where I’m at, even on the days when it doesn’t feel good. It reminded me of the strength that comes with every condition. The unbelievable challenges. The high highs and true depths of the lows.

Living with a chronic condition is isolating

Her photo reminded me of a time that I otherwise keep buried in my mind without any regard at all. It reminded me of the person I was during a very stressful time. It reminded me of the isolation that comes along with living with a chronic, autoimmune disease. And it honestly made me appreciate every single healthcare provider I’ve come into contact with. Every resource I’ve been given. Every friend I’ve made. Every friend I’ve lost. Because all of these things played a huge part in my health and life to this day...

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