Sarah Squire Embraces Life with a Stoma
I had colostomy surgery in 2007, aged 34 due to a rectovaginal fistula. Colostomies were for old people, not for a young(ish) mum with a full time job. How would I go to work? Would I smell? Would people be able to tell? Would I every wear jeans again? Can I go on holiday? So many questions but also an absolute terror.
I knew I needed the stoma as the fistula symptoms were horrendous – a connection between rectum and vagina meant I was passing stool uncontrollably the wrong way and it was completely mortifying. But I still wasn’t sure I could cope with a colostomy and also live a normal life.
My brilliant stoma nurse Simon managed to calm me down and explain that it really wasn’t the end of life as I knew it, and when he said “Sarah, children do this” it was a turning point for me. I had to get a grip and get on with it. I still didn’t like it and the early days were a struggle – psychologically as much as physically and although it felt like a long road I found great support, initially from the Ostomyland forum online and then also the Colostomy Association (CA). I went back to work full time, began managing my stoma by colostomy irrigation and you know what, life was OK. I didn’t smell, nobody could tell I had a stoma, I could wear jeans and we had an amazing family holiday in Florida a few months post op.
I began volunteering with CA and the more I did the more I loved it. I am now a Trustee and heavily involved in many areas of the charity. I absolutely love it and have met so many friends for life along the way.
As for the fistula, I had seven repairs in total and although the final one was a success, the multiple surgeries had damaged my sphincter muscle. Reversal would lead to incontinence so the stoma is staying. I am happy with my lot as there is no point in dwelling on what could’ve been and although I will never love my stoma, in a funny way I am grateful as it has indirectly resulted in a new lease of life for me in my work with CA. Life with a stoma is great.