“World Ostomy Day / Ostomy Awareness Day is an important day when we join together with ostomy associations across the world to raise awareness and show as many people as we can that having an ostomy not only saves lives, but it gives life back.” – UOAA
Today has been declared the first official World Ostomy and Ostomy Awareness Day. October 6th has been marked as a day to highlight the more than half a million people in the US living with some sort of ostomy. And today, this is a group that I am proud to be a part of.
I don’t believe that’s a phrase that you would expect to hear. I know I wouldn’t. All I could think of when I heard the word ostomy was that I would have to wear a “bag of poop” around on my stomach for the rest of my life. And I know the rest of the world keeps a similar view. I don’t know if many of you would remember, but there was an episode of Grey’s Anatomy back in 2009 where a patient was “threatened” with the possibility of an ostomy and she reacts as if it’s a fate worse than death.
But as I’ve written here many times, it was having an ostomy that gave me back my life. It’s allowing me to take part in my first triathlon tomorrow morning (!) and to train for my first half-marathon in December. It’s allowing me to focus on my dreams and goals and work harder than ever to go after them and not settle for whatever’s easiest. It’s allowing me to no longer worry how quickly I can get to the bathroom if the need arises. It’s allowing me to live a full life, no longer dragged down by constant exhaustion.
I have also met some wonderful people who I never would have met otherwise. People who I enjoy spending time with and who inspire me to be a better person. Some I’ve met in person and others I’ve only read their stories, but seen their strength in the face of horrible symptoms and tough decisions.
Those people are some of the strongest people I’ve ever met. And so many are living full, happy lives and not letting their health hold them back. I am happy to be one of them and to do my best to bring awareness to this condition. SPREAD THE WORD!