Today we celebrate love. A single day devoting to telling whomever we love, that we love them. We shower them with gifts, affection and kind words.
I am doing that today too.
But for my stoma.
Yes, you read that correctly; my stoma.
My stoma used to be that elephant in the room, the alien living under my top, a living and breathing weird little thing.
These days, whilst she is still living under my clothes, covered by my ostomy bag; she is a living and breathing embodiment of my disease.
I have Crohn’s disease and she saved me. She gave me back life. She gave me back everything.
I learnt a hell of a lot – about myself, about life, about goals and aspirations, about determination and grit – since being diagnosed six years ago, but the last eighteen months; I’ve been able to grow. I’ve been able to see my life beside my disease, instead of my disease controlling and being all encompassing.
Without my stoma, I wouldn’t have the freedom to live.
Without my stoma, I wouldn’t have moved away from home, taken a new job and lived on my own.
Without my stoma, I wouldn’t have been able to advocate for myself.
Without my stoma, I wouldn’t have been able to have this in depth, personal knowledge of ostomy.
Without my stoma, I wouldn’t have been able to relate to my fellow ostomates.
With my stoma, I am able to travel, drink, eat and function as normal as the next person.
With my stoma, I am able to find beauty in the small things in life.
With my stoma, I am able to help raise awareness and give a voice.
With my stoma, I am headstrong, strong willed and determined.
With my stoma, I am appreciative of my good days.
With my stoma, I understand the fundamentals of my digestive system.
With my stoma, I better manage my IBD and my body.
With my stoma, I am able to give myself the time I need to rest and recovery.
With my stoma, I am unstoppable.
With my stoma, I know myself better, deeper and I am in tune, in a way I’ve never been before.
My stoma is a big thing but it is also small too. It was the moment that I took control of my unpredictable disease and made a huge decision. It was the moment that I realised that I do have the final say in my life, in my body, in my health. It was the moment that life restarted. Life with a stoma is completely different to those days without it. The pain – gone. The lengthly bathroom trips – gone. The need for painkillers – gone. The invisibility of my disease – gone.
My stoma and I have had many ups and downs, highs and lows in the last couple months. And I could quite easily let those lows be my overall feeling towards my stoma, but I chose not. I chose to let the incredible strength I have push me forward. Going through stoma surgery – tough. Recovering from surgery – also tough. Dealing with stoma issues – tough too. Managing that / those whilst trying to just feel happy with your stoma – INCREDIBLY TOUGH.
I sit here on Valentines Day, a fresh bag on my belly, my stoma happily farting away, like she’s the most content thing in the world; relieved that this is life. This is my new life and I embrace it. I embrace the good, the bad, the ugly. I embrace the bag too, all the good it brings me and the mishaps too. Because – literally – shit happens and you deal with it. You build up for your courage and your strength; it isn’t just given to you.
But that feeling of being content and happy with your lot in life; that shouldn’t be underestimated. It is glorious.
I hope everyone who has a stoma feels like this at some point. I really do, but I appreciate it’s a long and tough road for some. Be good to yourself, be kind and love yourself. Even the inside of yourself.
All my love, stoma, I truly am grateful for all the good you’ve given me.