An Insight Into Life as a
Teenage Ostomate in the 1940s
In 1949, aged
seventeen, I had a temporary stoma for nine
months due to ulcerative colitis.
So what was it like
to be a young ostomate during this time?
In a word,
There were no ostomy
associations, as the first one was formed in
1957. It was known as QT Victoria, now
the Ileostomy Association of Victoria.
Hospital treatment was free, but appliances
cost you. There was only one appliance
available and it came from America and cost
the earth. It was called a "Davol
Colostomy Pouch" and was made of gum rubber
with an inflatable ring that fitted around the
stoma. It was one size fits all, so if
you were unfortunate enough to have a small
stoma then you inevitably suffered from
excoriated skin. The appliance was held
in place with a belt as the appliance had no
adhesives and, as skin care products were not
in existence, a wrong turn in bed literally
resulted in you "swimming in it"!
If you bent or
twisted the wrong way with a bit of gas in the
pouch, oops! ... out came the gas. I
mean to say, you could only blame the dog so
many times! The only odour control was
Dettol or disinfectant, so you tended to sit
on your own or in the middle of a group you
knew, that is, with family and friends.
The number of
ostomates at this time was low I suspect, as I
knew of only two others. One was a
nineteen year old chap I spent time with in
hospital and the other was a lady I heard
about at the Royal Melbourne Hospital but
You can appreciate my
apprehension when told twenty three years
later that I was to have a permanent
stoma. However, after coming to grips
with the new appliances I quickly settled back
into life, resuming sailing catamarans and
doing much of whatever I liked.
One bonus is that
grotty public toilets no longer bother me as I
don't have to sit on them!
today to the one appliance then, is much like
comparing a Rolls Royce to a Mini Minor.
"Just for YOU" (Volume 4 - October
1995). This article was based on a
talk that Terry gave at a YOU meeting and
was compiled by the then Journal Editor,
Young Ostomates United Inc