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5 things I've learned as an ostomate - Gemma Savory

I've had my little pink friend for 9 months now and it has got me thinking about how my life has changed in that short space of time.

5 things I've learned as an ostomate - Gemma Savory

Here are 5 things that I've learned since I gained my colostomy.

1. It saved my life

Whether your stoma was born from IBD, injury or cancer like myself. There is something that we all probably have in common and that is our stomas have saved our lives. That’s pretty huge! Whenever I feel frustrated with my situation, I have to remind myself of that, without my annoying little front butt I would not be here at all.

2. I’m not alone in this

Cancer and associated ostomy illnesses can feel very isolating. It may be that even though the people closest to you support you, they will never be able to fully comprehend how life changing it can be. BUT you are not alone in this. I have made great friends in similar situations from my stays in hospital and via social media groups. Did you know that there are over 3500 members of the Colostomy Association’s closed Facebook group? That’s a lot of us and that’s a lot of support. The Colostomy Association and the Bowel Cancer UK community have been a great support to me and have pulled me through some tough times. It’s been great to give something back too and help new members through those all too familiar tricky few weeks.

3. Poo is now a main part of my vocabulary!

There’s no escaping that scary word now! You probably won’t even notice you’re doing it but over time you will end up talking about your poo, bowel habits and bag changes. It’s great to be free of that stigma and to be able to educate other too. I try and put a filter on it occasionally though, especially when my husband says, “wow, the romance is dead isn’t it?”

4. Celebrate the good and accept the bad

Life has given me a second chance and it’s time to grab hold of it with both hands and enjoy it as much as possible. For me, it means trying to get back to normal. It may be a new normal but it includes doing everything that I did before I had my stoma. Sometimes as much as I try though, there are days where I struggle with it. I have to accept that life with a stoma will mean that I will have the occasional bag leak and panic over changing a bag when I’m out and about. It’s important for me to dust myself off, clean myself up and carry on as before.

5. It’s helped me to accept my body

Like a lot of women, I had my body hang-ups and prior to cancer my stomach was one of those. I felt that it was never flat enough even though I’m only petite. After my second surgery, I was in shock and felt overwhelmed by all that had happened. I felt like a patchwork doll that had been sliced and diced with an added bag attachment. Over the last few months, I’ve learnt to accept my body for what it is. Yes, I now have a scar that runs from my ribs to my pelvis and I’ve had so much reconstructive surgery to my pelvis and bottom that it’s unrecognisable BUT they are my war wounds and document the battle that I’ve won against cancer, and I’m proud of them. I couldn’t care less now whether my stomach was flat or flabby or the size of my arms or legs. My body has saved me and all I want from life now is to be healthy.