Open Letter: Stoma Bag Change

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.


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