Taking my Stoma to the Spa

I love a good spa day.

Swimming, a steam, hot tub, a treatment and being pampered in a robe and fluffy slippers. My idea of heaven.

Over the years I’ve found being in a relaxing environment such as a spa very much help me with my mental health and give me some much-needed reflective time alone. I tend to ask for them as gifts for Christmas or birthdays so, that every year I get at least two days of rest and relaxation. This year I received one but had to reschedule it three times due to Crohn’s flare ups, surgeries and hospital admissions. Finally, during the end of my recovery from this surgery, I went.

Let me tell you, my body is different now that I have an ostomy bag stuck to my belly. I also have a wonderfully pink 5 ½ inch midline scar and a couple laparoscopic ones on my left side too. But I wanted to be brave and ‘show off’ my battle wounds. I brought a new bikini – a somewhat impossible task given it was September – and took the plunge.
This is me:

I am not perfect. I don’t think that my body is where I would like it to be, but look at that scar! It’s not all of it, nor is all my bag on show but those two things remind me I am still here. That I have fought my disease and came out the other side.

My writing and my words might make it seem like I am confident and slightly eager to flash my recent surgical scars but I am a shy individual; hardly every comfortable in her own skin. With my weight gains and losses over the years as I battled this invisible illness I have; I’ve loved and hated my body. This disease has given me the typical mooning of my face, the swelling of my belly, shrinking thighs and loss of my buttocks; I’ve grown accustom to these over the years, but the scars from someone cutting into me – surgical intervention – still shock me. If I am truly honest, not wanting those scars was a big factor in why I always tried all the medications. Why I always put up with the side effects from them too.

I don’t want surgery or my ileostomy to change what I do or how I am.

I walked into that changing room, took my clothes off and put a bikini on. Acted like my scars and bag were not there. If people stared, let them. I wasn’t looking for their acceptance. I was looking for my own.
NB: Originally posted on Safe Space UK here.

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