Part of what makes people nervous about having an ostomy is the worry that their life will be “over” and they’ll never get to do “normal” things again from eating out to enjoying intimacy. I’d like to settle your nerves. I’ve had my ostomy two years (today is my stomaversary!) and in those two years, even in just the first year, I have lived a “normal” life. In fact, it’s been an amazing two years full of fun new experiences.
Here’s an incomplete list of things I did in my first year with my ostomy. It’s incomplete because 365 days is a lot of time and I’ve done a lot of things and simply can’t remember all of them!
1. Became something of a nomad, spending time in 3-4 places consistently
2. Numerous 1- 7 mile hikes
4. Met a number of new people & chose who got to know about my ostomy and who didn’t (those who I didn’t tell, never knew!)
5. Met a new guy and made him my boyfriend
6. Enjoyed intimacy
7. Went on vacation out of the country (first time to Mexico!)
8. Flew multiple times on airplanes (this includes going through security and customs guys!)
9. Held down a job
10. Ate out frequently (it was part of my job)
11. Learned to cook new yummy meals
12. Went to musicals and a symphony
13. Spent time with family and friends
14. Talked on the phone (before my ostomy I had a ton of anxiety associated with phones)
15. Went shopping. A lot.
16. Played JustDance for Wii
17. Did a couple cartwheels, just to prove I could (I’m sure they’d be pretty if I practiced them)
18. Went to museums
19. Played piano
20. Got asked “Where’s your bag? Did you take it off?!” (while wearing tight exercise clothes, mind you)
21. Played with different hair styles
22. Went to a professional hockey game
23. Went on boat rides
24. Wore a bathing suit (high-waisted, and it sure was cute!)
25. Drank alcohol and went wine tasting
26. Laughed so hard I cried
27. Had sad days and frustrated days
28. Roasted s’mores
29. Collected seashells and rocks off the beach
30. Watched a meteor shower
31. Participated in a 5k
32. Learned some basic sewing (bag covers, woohoo!)
Here’s some things I’ve done in my second year with an ostomy (I redid a lot of the things from the first year too).
33. Had a second surgery and changed my ostomy pouch in the hospital (to kick off my second year)
34. Completed the P90X3 exercise program
35. Started training capoeira again
36.Traveled alone to St Louis and played tourist
37. Attended an ostomy conference
38. Rode my bike to a baseball game
39. Rode the “High Roller” ferris wheel in Las Vegas (okay, it’s really slow…)
40. Took a wild food foraging class
41. Baked lots of cookies
42. Learned to cook with a slow cooker (best invention ever)
43. Went bowling
44. Climbed a tree
45. Worked at a professional football game and a major golf tournament
I know there are lots of other things I did, but I think this is a pretty good display of a normal life. And sure, there are activities I didn’t do in the past two years like snow-board, ski, swim, mountain climb, fight a lion, cure IBD etc. But, the thing is, those aren’t really things I would have done without an ostomy either. Not only that, but just because I haven’t done those things doesn’t mean I haven’t met, spoken with, or read about ostomates who have done those things (except curing IBD, but an ostomy wouldn’t stop someone from doing that!).
So, what have I learned in two years with an ostomy? An ostomy only limits your life as much as you let it. If you live in fear of trying new things, you won’t ever know if you’re capable of them.
Having ostomy surgery is scary, but a beautiful life can exist beyond your surgery if you let it.
Here are some pictures from the past two years. Follow me @ostomyadventure on instagram to see what other fun things I’m doing!