Despite doing my own research prior to my ostomy surgery, nothing really can prepare you for changing your bag for the first time. Let alone the hundredth or whatever.
I sat removing my leaky bag earlier on, remembering my first bag change when I felt in control. It must have been a couple months post op when I wasn’t afraid of looking at it or feeling it. I’d gotten use to that idea quite quickly. But the soreness and uncomfortableness; that took a couple months to settle, as my stoma dropped in size, my abdomen changed shape and I started wearing a convex bag and a seal / washer / ring.
When I did that bag change; when I’d finally gotten used to this new normal, this new routine; I smiled to myself. You’re doing it Louise! You’re doing what you were so worried about!
And what exactly was I worried about, hm?
I was worried that I would never feel comfortable changing my appliance. I was worried I would regret my decision for surgery. I was worried that this – my stoma – was all for nothing, it would change nothing.
But it’s changed everything.
Each time I remove my bag and see my stoma, I see my illness. I see my Crohn’s Disease and I see the months of agony I went through prior to this. I remember the butt burn, the pain, the constant barrage of medication and painkillers, the bloating, the weight loss, the sickness, the sinking feeling of never being well. I remember vividly the constant feeling of guilty and the intense anger. I see my little red friend and though it’s not the conventional norm for bodily waste, it works and it works well. I have a new life and it is mine; it is not controlled by pain or fear of what else can go wrong.
So when I can happily sit and clean my stoma, apply my products and new bag within 6 minutes, I wonder what on earth I was ever concerned about. This is like a reflex. It is second nature.
If you are out there, scared of what life with a stoma is going to be like; please take this away with you:
It will, eventually, become normal. It will become ordinary to you and part of your daily routine. However cliched that sounds, it will be. And it just takes time. How much time, I can’t say. But one day you will have a day like I have had and wonder what on earth you ever worried about.