My son will grow up in a different world. He will grow up in a place where having an ostomy is a normal thing. I mean, 1 out of his 2 parents will have one!
He’ll know what a stoma is. He’ll understand there’s a difference between a colostomy and an ileostomy. He will celebrate World Ostomy Day. He will probably at some point blurt out to some stranger that mommy poops in a bag. He will know that an ostomy is not disfiguring. It is not gross. It is not debilitating. And he will know that it saved his mom’s life.
I pray that in knowing these things, he will understand that sometimes people are different from us and that’s okay. I hope he will always remember that you don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life below the surface, and that he will have patience and show kindness to everyone.
I hope some day he will meet someone with an ostomy or who may need to get one and he will be able to relate to them and let them know that it’s not something to be afraid or ashamed of. And if someday when he has a wife, if she ever has to deal with anything remotely similar, I pray that he will support her and stand by her in the same way his father has stood by me.
And while this is the world my son will grow up in, it’s not the world most of us do. Most people don’t have someone who can tell them that ostomies are not just for the old, or that they don’t make someone less of a person. We don’t have someone who is willing to show us that they are different and to let us know that it’s okay. That’s why when those of us who need an ostomy are faced with having to get one, we get scared. We run away. We learn to live with the pain. All because we are worried that our bag will show our weakness and others will think we are gross or weird.
But this is what I think the point of World Ostomy Day is: to make this world more like my son’s world. To help make it a world where our differences are celebrated. To let everyone out there know they are not alone and that they will get through this. And there’s a whole community of people out there who are going to help them do it.