I had an email from the friendly folks at ConvaTEC (or rather Ostomysecrets), purveyors of fine ostomy supplies and apparel. I’m still on their newsletter ever since my ostomy days so I still get updates on their news. Although I no longer have a need for those supplies, I really like the occasional reminder of what I needed during my ostomy time.
Every first Saturday of October is the worldwide Ostomy Awareness Day, and 2020 marks the 10 year anniversary of this ritual. I had no idea until literally this year.
As such, the whole month of October is classed as Ostomy Awareness Month, and CovaTEC had these t-shirts in stock for $5 plus shipping. I couldn’t resist and bought several, both to support the project, and to send to friends around the globe so they can celebrate with every current, co- or ex-ostomate in style.
Check out this link to get yours too, if they’re still in stock.
What this means to me
October is a special month for me in regards to ostomies: I had my colostomy successfully reversed and turned into an ileostomy in the month of October. I had it for 9 months by that point, my hernia was giving me grief, and although we had always planned to reverse it, you’re never sure if that’s how things will turn out when you go in for the procedure. Lucky for me it went well, and I came out with an ileostomy. Dr. Szomstein (my colon surgeon) did this to make sure the that the lower part of the connection could heal properly.
After 10 more weeks with my shiny new ileostomy, he could reverse that too – and I am ostomy free since December 2017.
I wouldn’t have survived my journey without the two ostomies. My cancer had wreaked havoc to so many parts of my GI and urinary tract; we had to literally divert everything we could so I wouldn’t continually get infected. It was a tough time, and I remember seriously disliking the effects that ileostomy had on my body. It was far worse than my colostomy: I felt dehydrated all the time, I was constantly craving salt because my body didn’t get a chance to metabolise what I put in, and it felt like my stoma was in constant use.
At least with my colostomy, I had “quiet” periods that I could use to change the wafer in peace, and my skin could recover properly. This was not the case with my other stoma. The constant acidic leakage from my ileostomy meant that I had strong skin irritation with literally no chance for my skin to recover. I remember worrying that it might be difficult to close up the hole due to the raw and itchy skin, but thankfully that was not an issue.
While it was a nerve-wrecking ritual every morning, both of these contraptions meant that I was neither bed bound nor restricted in my daily movement routines: I could take walks, I could take relatively long bike rides, and once taken care of in the morning, there wasn’t much to worry about for the rest of the day or night – apart from empting the bag regularly and keep an eye on it. Much like with any task that seems impossible at first: if you have the right tools to do the job, dealing with the toughest tasks becomes possible.
So there we go! Let’s celebrate Ostomy Awareness Month together, with or without a shirt. Let’s think of those who are dealing with ostomies every day, patients and carers alike, and purveyors of ostomy supplies.
You’re all heroes in my book! 🥰
6 months with my ileostomy now (well 6.5, really), and I can’t really recall what life was like without it!
Last week I got the results from the contrast X-rays I had taken last month, my bowel has fully healed where they spliced it back together after excising the cancer, and everything else looks normal, so I’m on the waiting list to have the ileostomy reversed.
Given we’re still ‘mid-covid’ I don’t anticipate that will be any time soon – that’s ok though, I’m not sure I’m in any hurry to get back to ‘business as usual’ – I’ve gotten used to the convenience!
I feel you on the salt cravings, though. Such an unusual part of the experience to me – I’m known for having a tremendously sweet tooth!