Every so often I will hear a conversation about romantic relationships while living with an ostomy. Often someone will say they were left because of their ostomy, or that they’ve resigned themselves to being alone because no one could love them now. And I have one thing to say to them: STOP IT. An ostomy does not make you unlovable. It doesn’t make you anything other than another human with your own set of experiences. That ostomy is simply a symbol of the life you have lived and who you have become through those experiences.
Now full disclosure before I get too far into this: I was married when I went through surgery to get my ostomy, so I have not gone through the dating process with one; however, I believe what I am writing is true no matter what point you are at in a relationship.
Sometimes, it’s not the ostomy.
When you go through something that necessitates getting an ostomy—whether it’s a chronic condition like IBD or some sort of trauma—that’s a lot for a person to handle. It may bring up feelings of “why me?” or resentment towards God or the world. Constant pain can make anyone feel frustrated. Having difficulty after surgery can lead to depression, feeling sorry for yourself, and lashing out at others. All of these can cause issues in a relationship. If you were someone whose partner left after your surgery, I am not at all saying that you are at fault. What I am saying is that going through this can change people, and when people change, the relationship changes and sometimes that relationship no longer works. So, if you were someone who was left and you felt they left because you now have an ostomy, there may be a lot more at play than simply that. Continue reading
I have debated for a while about writing a post on sex. I know my parents and my parents-in-law and even my grandparents read my blog (I’m giving you fair warning that this is one post you can skip!), but I know that sex is an important subject when it comes to ostomies. It’s probably one of the first questions you have when you know you are going to have surgery. I know it was for me. You wonder not only about the “how is this going to work?” but also the “how am I going to feel?” It’s also a hard question to bring up for many people, so I figure… let’s talk about it! And we’ll talk about it online so you don’t actually have to bring yourself to ask about it.
Like I said, one of my first questions once I decided to go through with the surgery was, “how is this going to affect my sex life?” Thankfully I had a surgeon who this wasn’t his first go-round and he knew it was probably a question I had so he brought it up without making me have to. He told me that it would not change anything majorly, but it would be an adjustment, especially after getting the rectum removed. The rectum is right up against the vaginal canal and provides support, so no longer having it made things feel different. Not bad different, just… different.
As we all usually do at this time of year, I’ve been thinking back over everything that has happened over the course of 2013. When I look back at the beginning of the year, I can’t believe all that has happened in such a short time.
This has been a big year for me, in both good ways and some bad ways. Here’s my Top 10 major events from 2013, in no particular order:
At the beginning of the year, I was in a cast and had just made the decision to train for my second half-marathon. I had no plans to go ahead with another surgery. I was still just becoming comfortable with everything that comes along with being a health activist and sharing your story in a public setting. I had just gotten back my score on my GRE and was nervous about submitting my application for grad school.
All of these things seem like they happened so long ago. It amazes me to think that in just another year, I will probably be looking back on where I am right now and think that there’s no way it has only been a year.
Thinking back over this year as a whole, even with some disappointments, both in myself and in life in general, I am proud of how this year turned out and how I feel that I have grown during it. I am so thankful for the new friends I made this year and the new experiences I had. It makes me really excited for the year ahead. I am looking forward to making plans and setting goals for the next 365 days. 2014, I’m coming for you!
In today’s technological, fast-paced, instant gratification world, I think we often forget to slow down and just enjoy being. We always feel like we have to be doing something, reading something, posting something. But what about taking the time to just be in another person’s company?
My husband and I are guilty of this. More times than I care to admit do we end up eating dinner in front of the TV or checking something on our phone rather than talking. The last thing I want is to look back in 10, 50, 70 years and think that life passed me by. It passed by while I was sitting on the couch, looking at a computer screen, getting distracted by the millions of things that are vying for our attention each and every day.
So this past Saturday, my husband and I decided to take the day to unplug a little bit. I wanted to just turn off our phones and not worry about anybody calling or texting or updating anything (except to post a few Instagrams of our day!), and enjoy a day together, celebrating our third year of marriage. And you know what? We had a really good time.
After breakfast, we started the day off at North Carolina State University campus. For those who don’t know, I am a University of North Carolina graduate and I am a big Tar Heel fan. My husband attended rival school NCSU. We are both good natured about our sport allegiances and will cheer for each other’s teams… except when they are playing each other. But in just a few weeks, I will officially be a member of the NCSU Wolfpack, as well, and my husband has enjoyed getting to tease me about attending State for higher education. But we’ve never really been out to the campus together. It was a fun opportunity to get to walk around and show each other where our classes were or will be. It’s also a very big campus and I get a little lost, so he showed me where the important spots are.
Three years ago, on this very day, I walked down a beautiful, flower-lined path wearing a white dress. I remember how excited and nervous I was. I remember the heat! (It was 100-degrees that day.) I remember holding hands with Jarrod the whole time. I remember dropping his ring because my hands were so sweaty. I remember I remember when the car we were supposed to drive off in broke down and we ended up riding in a giant tour bus with Jarrod’s whole family. I remember that being one of the best parts of the whole day. I remember thinking how I blessed I was to have found such an amazing man who wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.
You go through a lot those first three years of marriage, regardless of who you are. Then throw in a severely active bowel disease and two surgeries and you’ve got some big hurdles to make it over. And we haven’t soared over all of them, by any means, but I think we’ve had a pretty good race so far. Some couples never had to deal with the things that we’ve been through and I can only believe that it has made us stronger together. I can’t imagine what it would have been like without him.