Anne’s Story

YOU Is For Me

Young Ostomy United is for me, a group of friends, a fun and special bunch of people.  At YOU our major concerns are those seen on our logo; i.e. support, friendship and knowledge.  Our aim is to foster support and friendship between those young people who have either had or are about to have stoma surgery.

I strongly feel that YOU cannot be categorized as just another support group, as it goes far beyond carrying out the usual functions of organizing meetings and distributing newsletters.  Central to YOU is the priority and emphasis on the individual ostomate.  The friendship and informality has kept me going back for more, for several years.

Like many other members, I too felt that at last I had found my "niche".  The special support and closeness of YOU fills that gap or "void".  The feeling of isolation which many do feel, particularly after surgery, when often the "stoma" and the physical side is mainly treated, whilst the person's emotional and psychological adjustment to having a stoma, is often either overlooked or not focused on at length.

Life after surgery has definitely improved for me, especially after having had Crohn's Disease for over 10 years.  However, resuming a normal life after surgery has been gradual and has been a process of rebuilding and taking time "out" to work out my priorities.  Focusing and working through some of the more difficult issues have been made easier with the support and tolerance of my husband, as well as the sense of identification and discussion with my friends from YOU.

Being secretary of the group over the past years, although enriching and interesting, has further impressed upon me the importance and need for such groups on a bigger scale, in fact worldwide.  The accessibility and reassurance especially for a younger ostomate, that groups like YOU can be contacted or approached either, on a group basis or on a one to one basis, by telephone or at a group gathering, is vital.  The YOU Telephone Directory, which outlines the names, age, type of illness and stoma of a member, is a crucial link to sympathetic ear.  We are forever learning and different situation arise constantly which can be traumatizing.

A particular panel discussion earlier on in the year, clearly pointed to the multi-faceted and ever changing aspects to having a stoma.  For a new kid on the block, the thought of not being able to resume hobbies such as skiing, para diving, bungee-jumping, surfing or swimming, proves depressing.  Although his/her surgeon or stomal therapy nurse may have assured the ostomate that pursuing such activities is fine, it is even more reassuring to be told by someone like Nabil, a panel member.  He was very reassuring in telling us how an ileostomy has not restricted his sporting activities, including water sports and how lycra bathers are highly recommended for sports in general.

Sexuality is another "hot" topic particularly for the single ostomate who may have burning questions like; "Can I or Can't I?", "When and how to tell a girl/boy friend, friends etc?"

Other topics raised included; feeling depressed, teaching a spouse or family member to change your bag in the event of illness, telling your children, whether or not you should tell your employer.

On a lighter note, another important part of YOU are the social functions. They have included barbecues, nights out, and a weekends away, sometimes meeting fellow ostomates in rural Victoria.

This particular need in our society for a young people's group has been looked for a long time and so now that we have established YOUNG OSTOMY UNITED, it is our intention to carry on through the 90's and beyond!

[Note:  The above is an extract from Anne's article written in the mid-1990s.  As noted on our Home page, "Young Ostomy United" was YOU's original name.]

Reprinted from the "Thoughts of YOU" membership folder.

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