If I look at my life, so much has happened but few things change you as much as waking up after emergency life saving surgery with a stoma. Everything changed in that moment. I became an ostomate!
The definition of an ostomate is a person who has undergone a surgical procedure to create an opening in the body that will be used to discharge wastes.
I went from being “perfectly normal” to living with a colostomy. It took me a while to accept that this was normal too, just my new normal. The only reason it felt weird at all was because I was so ignorant about it all. I had no idea just how common it was. Just how many others it happened to.
I was completely ignorant before my ostomy journey began
I didn’t even know what a colostomy bag was. I genuinely thought that Colostomy bags were something that only old people used.
I didn’t know what a stoma was. I had never even heard the word before. And yet here I was – an Ostomate!
My journey with a stoma taught me so much about myself and others. Mostly though, it made me want to spread awareness. Tell everyone I knew about my experience. Educate and empower both people living with ostomies and others who like me, previously had no idea about it.
So I decided to share my story publicly and shamelessly. I chose not to live in shame. I chose to speak out loud and educate those who don’t know. I hope I make even one other person with an ostomy feel less alone and more normal.
Ostomy Support in South Africa
There just isn’t enough support in South Africa for people living with Ostomies. I felt like I had no one to turn to for hand holding. My family was wonderful but they didn’t know what it felt like to be me. It was a constant struggle to find the right products and there just isn’t the same variety available in South Africa as there is internationally.
I started a Facebook Group for people living with Ostomies (and their families) in South Africa! So please feel free to join our tiny group if you need somewhere to go to ask questions. People in the group understand what you’re going through.
If you’re reading this and you’re a new ostomate, please be patient with yourself. I promise you it gets easier over time! Even though it feels like life will never be the same again. It will – you will adapt.
There are products out there, like Lazarus, that make having your ostomy easier! Do your research and find the products that work for you!
There isn’t a one size fits all solution with bags. Find one that works for you. If the one you try doesn’t work then keep searching until you find one that does.
My Reversal Journey
I was fortunate to be eligible for a reversal! If you’d like to read about my experience going through the reversal process, read these articles!
I’m now fully recovered and life almost feels like it did before I had this whole experience but I’m changed forever. Everything about how I see the world has shifted and become something new. I will always be an Ostomate.
I will always know what it felt like to be scared, to feel alone. To be angry with the entire world because this happened to me.
So thankful that I lived, that my stoma allowed me to spend more time with my son. If it wasn’t for this emergency procedure, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have lived. I wouldn’t be telling my tale.
What matters, is that I know what you’re going through so please don’t hesitate to contact me. Inbox me, email me, let me know you need me. I’m here. You don’t have to feel alone. No one has to go through this alone!