My Life as a Colostomate
Since I've had my colostomy since I was five years old I really don't know what it is like not to have it, so I guess my situation is a little different from the usual ostomate story.
I had my usual ups and downs growing up but I think my lowest point was when I told a "friend" about my colostomy and she promptly passed it on to my whole class. I was nine years old. It was pretty hard dealing with all the questions and the usual curiosity of the nine year olds. However, I lived to tell the tale! It was because of that incident that I kept my "secret" to myself and didn't tell anyone unless I absolutely trusted them, or I had to. Now in hindsight, I realize probably everyone knew anyway.
My teen years were better as I really have some close friends who were in on my secret. However, I guess as hormones raced through my adolescent body, it was at this time my colostomy gave me a lot of problems. I missed school as I had diarrhoea almost constantly and nothing would alleviate it. I'm sure you all can identify with what a mess that is at the best of times. Well as luck would have it, I survived my teen years intact but only barely and only through the support of my friends and family.
Dating isn't a problem. People always ask, when do you tell someone that you have colostomy? Well that's hard for me to say, as I would wait for the opportunity to present itself. Sometimes my "dates" would never be told. When and if I did tell then, they almost always said, "I had no idea'. By this stage I was a Master of camouflages.
My life completely turned around when I came to Australia in 1989. Not only did I marry a wonderful man, I was also put in touch with a Stomal Therapist (I had no idea these people existed!) and put on an irrigation therapy that worked wonders for my confidence. It seemed I was always at the mercy of my colostomy, now I had some control over it! I was also surprised the supplies were free. I had to pay up to US$56.00 a box for thirty stoma bags, which sometimes didn't last for very long as you well imagine. Not long after, I learnt of the Y.0.U. Group and well, the information and friendship I have gained from it are immeasurable. I always felt so alone before, like I was the only one in the world with a colostomy. Imagine, actually talking to people who are going through the same things you are!
The point I would like to make, is a colostomy is not the end of the world, it may feel like it at times, but it's manageable and we cope. I'm living proof !!
["Thoughts of YOU" Editor's Note: Teddi was 22 when this was written. Since then she has had three children.]
Reprinted from the "Thoughts of YOU" membership folder. Most stories were written from the early to mid 1990s.