Recently, I realized that that this month marks my fourth stomaversary month. Time sure does fly… Three and a half years ago, I was meeting with Heidi from Ostomyoutdoors.com. She was about three years out of surgery at that point and reading her blog was (is) a huge inspiration to me. She had done so many things I couldn’t dream of being able to do, even though I’d seen it was possible.
At dinner, Heidi told me that eventually I’d find myself at a point where I was not hyperaware of my ostomy – at a point where I might even forget it’s there periodically. Being only seven months out of surgery, I was still very much aware of every movement I made, every ache and pain I felt in my abdomen, what I had been told I could and couldn’t eat or do, and how every piece of clothing I put on might fit in relation to my ostomy. I was obsessed. I was terrified of doing anything that might cause a leak, blockage, or hernia. Needless to say, I didn’t believe her. It just didn’t seem like I would ever “get over” my ostomy enough to let it stop driving my life, or that I would ever not “feel” it sitting there attached to me.
I was wrong. Heidi was right.
It happens pretty frequently now, that I forget that I have an ostomy. Thankfully not frequently enough for me to be negligent of its care, but certainly enough for me to have some freedom from it in my thoughts.
The experiences of adjusting to and living life with an ostomy has been humbling, frustrating, funny, scary… It has been a challenge both physically and emotionally but I am so thankful for the challenges because they’ve really shaped the me into the woman I am today.
After reading back to my stomaversary month post from last year, I was happy to see that I’m still embracing a similar mindset: getting out of my comfort zone and facing my fears. I’d love to say that I’m celebrating with a fancy cake that has a stoma on it or something, but just like last year, this year’s stomaversary celebration has been a year long escapade that keeps on going. In the last year I’ve had the opportunity to continue to travel quite a bit (including to New Zealand, wow!), to get married (Oh yea, I should write about that huh!), move to a new state, more hiking and camping, started making hot yoga a habit, and kept my weekends filled with plans to spend time with family, friends, and adventures.
Acknowledging and facing my fears, finding humor and gratitude in stressful situations and surrounding myself with people I enjoy being around who build me up have been integral life lessons I’ve learned in the last four years. I work to spread positive ostomy awareness because it reminds me every day why I choose to push myself to be a happier, stronger, more courageous person than I ever dreamed of being.
So, Coltrane, my dear, mostly well-behaved stoma. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MONTH! And happy stomaversary month to me!