The biggest hurdle, in my opinion, in getting an ostomy is simply becoming comfortable with it. It takes time to figure out how to take care of it and how to prevent/deal with leaks. It’s not overnight that you learn how fast your bag will fill up and how often you should empty it or change it. And it’s really not easy to get to the point that you forget you have an ostomy. But for me, that’s been the goal.
From the beginning, I hoped I that I could get to the point where I didn’t really think about having an ostomy. That I could forget it was event there. Obviously, you are constantly reminded of having an ostomy just by feeling it getting heavier and having to empty is multiple times a day, so you can never actually forget about it. I am simply referring to being in a place where doing those things are just second nature and you don’t actively think about that fact that you poop in a different way than other people. And there are times that I get to that point. It’s definitely not every day or even all day, but there are plenty of times that I just go about my business and take care of it when I need to and it doesn’t actually occur to me that most people aren’t dealing with the same thing every day.
But now, I’m not so convinced that’s what my goal should be.
There have been times that I have gotten so busy and distracted by everything going on around me that I stop taking my ostomy into consideration and essentially just forget that that it’s even there. So that’s great! That’s the dream, right?! But, it’s actually gotten me into some trouble at times.
I have eaten hard to digest foods that I have not spent time chewing. I have had more wine to drink than usual and have not made up for it by drinking more water. I have let a leak under my ostomy bag sit for longer than I should have since it wasn’t leaking outside of it. When I do this, it often leads to a mild blockage or nausea or multiple bag empties that usually come along with not thinking things through. I might have to deal with painful and irritated skin around my stoma. And I could have avoided these things if I had just taken my ostomy into consideration in each of these scenarios.
I’m beginning to think that forgetting about my ostomy should not be the goal. But rather, coming to terms with it and accepting it for what it is: a part of my life. Rather than trying to forget about it, maybe actively thinking about it during the day will just serve as a reminder than I am different, and that’s okay. I mean, let’s be honest, no matter what you do, you will always have an ostomy bag hanging there as a constant reminder that, oh yah, you have an ostomy. But you know what? Maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.