When I was first asked to write this article, I thought "Heavens! Where do I start?" Well I guess it's easier to start at the beginning.
My name is Alex and I am 16 years old. I had my loop ileostomy for three years now and looking after it has become quite a normal part of my daily life.
I suppose I am writing this article to make you other teenagers aware that there are other people out there who are coping with the same problem as you are.
Being 16 is bad enough without having to carry around extra "baggage". I've found shopping for clothes very frustrating as all the fashionable things have tight, low waists. Although with a little adaptation, there is no reason why can't wear whatever you want.
I've had my share of mishaps as I am sure many of you have probably experienced, I mean, you can't say waking up to find the contents of your bag everywhere is very pleasant. But hey, if you can't laugh about it, what can you do?
For many of you, your ileostomy has probably improved your quality of life quite dramatically. Unfortunately for me, because of my rare bowel condition, it hasn't improved mine.
It took a long time before it was finally decided before we try the ileostomy, which is why I have a reversible stoma and I can't say I was very happy about the decision. Although I was aware that it maybe a possibility, months in advance, I didn't really begin to accept it until the day before I was to have it done.
It did take a lot of getting used to, the fact that the bag on my abdomen was going to collect my body waste. At first I couldn't think of anything more disgusting and as you can imagine, it didn't do much for my morale. But the longer I've had it, the more I've got used to it being there.
Although I long for the day that I don't need the ileostomy and I can lead a healthy, happy life, I know that I will be able to cope with just about anything because of what I have experienced.
Last year I joined Y.O.U. and although the many members in the group have been understanding and supportive, I still have the problem of being the youngest member in the group. So, if you are a teenage ileostomate or the friend of an ileostomate, why don't you come to one of the meetings just to find out if it is the support mechanism you have been looking for!
Reprinted from the "Thoughts of YOU" membership folder. Most stories were written from the early to mid 1990s.