This is such a vast subject that I could write about it forever. Before I had my stoma, I didn’t really know what a stoma was, what it would look like like or how it would affect my life. If I’m perfectly honest, I thought it was something that old people had – perhaps as a result of having cancer. Never in a million years did I think I would receive one in my early 50s. I didn’t really understand or appreciate how it could ever be something that was life changing or in any way something positive. For this month’s blog I have tried to pick some of the common misconceptions that relate to my initial worries about having a stoma.

1. That it’s the signal for the end of your life. Honestly, for me, this is absolutely not true. Most stomas will have been formed in order to save your life. Everyone’s recovery is different, but for me personally the relief of feeling well again was incredible. I had more energy, far fewer visits to the toilet as liberating, I had more control over my body weight and honestly a new zest for life.

2. Stoma bags smell. Having what is essentially a bag of poo attached to your stomach would suggest to most people that you’re going to be smelly. Okay, poo smells – we all know that – but stoma bag manufacturers have gone to great lengths to develop bags/ pouches with the most sophisticated filter technology to ensure this does not happen. These filters eliminate any odours so no- the stoma bag does not smell.

3. Having a stoma bag means the end of your sex life or any intimacy. This is certainly not the case. Absolutely it is harder for some than others to remain body-positive after an ostomy. This is especially difficult if your partner is struggling to accept the changes to your body or if you are starting out in a new relationship. However, with the right support and understanding there is no reason why you can’t enjoy a full and healthy sex life. Having the confidence to be in an intimate relationship isn’t something that can be rushed; in the most intimate moments both parties have to feel comfortable with each other.

4. You can’t shower, bathe or swim with a stoma. Again this is not the case. Stoma bags are completely waterproof these days and are incredibly discrete. The glue is completely water resistant and there is no chance that the bag will loosen at all in water. The bags really are such a high quality product. As well as the bags, there is a range of suitable swimwear available to purchase that will give any ostomate the confidence to get back in the water. My advice would be to get out there and be proud!

5. You can’t travel with a stoma. I would refer you to my blog from June 2023 where I talk in detail about this. Of course there is absolutely no reason why an ostomate should not consider travelling abroad simply because they wear a pouch. As I suggest in last year’s blog, with the right planning and preparation (ie sort out your travel certificate and medical information, get a GHIC card, ensure you have enough supplies) along with sensible packing strategies the world is your oyster.

As a proud ostomate, I feel it’s so important to acknowledge that stomas save lives. The only limits to life are the ones you set yourself; don’t be afraid to live your life to the fullest and show the world that having a stoma is special.

Keith
@keiththom2014

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