I’ve been writing my blog for almost 4 months now. And in this time I’ve talked about my feelings, my thoughts and my experiences. But one experience I’ve avoided talking about is the first time I actually looked at my stoma. There’s a number of reasons for this. But the main reason is that it was without a doubt the hardest, scariest, most confusing experience of my life – I couldn’t find a way to put it into words as to how I felt that day… until now.
I know that my blog pushes towards body confidence, embracing your body and appreciating the life you’re given. But it took me a short while to learn that this is what I needed to do. I’m only human, and as humans, we are prone to experiencing a number of emotions. And that day filled me with many.
It was three weeks into my recovery that I finally braved looking at my stoma. Before that time, I had asked my mum to help me change my ileostomy bag, whilst I guarded my face with a towel. I couldn’t bring myself to look at it. I’d accepted the fact that I had an ileostomy. I could look at my ileostomy bag itself. But I think this is because I saw the ileostomy bag as a guard – something that helped me ignore the fact that there was something underneath. Something before that time, I didn’t understand. And wasn’t prepared to start understanding. I’d moved home with my mum, and she became my prime carer. But in order to move back home with my boyfriend, I needed to gain my independence back. And the way to do this, was to begin changing my ileostomy myself… which also meant looking at my stoma.
I’d put it off for all this time… how was I going to do it? How was I going to gain the courage to face reality? What if I hated it? What if it made my hate myself? What if I broke down completely? So many questions filled my brain as I stopped my mum whilst she was getting prepared for my bag change, and said “I’m going to do it this time mum”. Without hesitation, she began telling me what I needed to do. She talked me through the preparation, and showed me how to cut a bag. I’m sure she was nervous as to how I may react. She stayed calm, and I tried to also. But inside my stomach was in knots. I know it may sound silly to you, but this was a huge thing for me. It was me gaining some form of independence back. It was me getting my life back on track.. my new life.
A thousand thoughts ran through my mind that day as I eased the ileostomy bag off of my stomach. Once cleaned up and fresh, I looked at my stoma in the mirror. Of course, I’d seen pictures on google images which yes.. scared the living hell out of me. But as I looked at the little pink looking thing sticking out of my stomach… I felt okay. I wish I could say I felt more, but at that point, for me, okay was just what I needed. Having been so upset in the hospital and being unable to look at my stomach for so long, I’d convinced myself all of the overwhelming feelings of negativity would come rushing back. I hadn’t prepared myself for the fact that I may actually feel okay.
It was such a relief. I’d finally done it. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. It didn’t look like all of the scary, close up images I’d seen online. It was small, it was clean, it almost looked like a little rose bud. I think the thought of something is always much worse than the reality. All of the thoughts I had feared had eased. And you know.. I didn’t hate it. Once I’d seen it, I instantly began accepting it. Because I realised that without this little thing poking out of my belly, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be here to share this moment with my mum, the moment that we spent appreciating the second chance at life I’d been given. To me, it didn’t matter what had changed about my body that day. All that mattered was that I was still here. That I was still able to be with my family.
I’d love to write more, to go more in-depth on how I felt that day. But I think there’s some things that maybe I’d just like to keep in my head. All I can say, is that I was okay. And I think.. that’s okay for me.