By: Karin Camposagrado
Ever wondered what it's like to have a disability? I think it's a different experience for everyone.
I saw a variation of a quote by Angel Chernoff the other day that really sums up my experience of living with a disability, it said "If the grass looks greener on the other side, it might just be a reminder to start watering the grass you're standing on."
Sometimes I feel like an imposter in the world of disabilities. Technically I count as a disabled person, but I don't really identify as one. I know that from the outside it looks like I'm really tough and I've been through a lot (I have), but for me, I've just been as strong as I needed to be for the challenges I've had to face - I've watered the grass wherever I've been standing.
I see my ostomy as the way I poop and an opportunity to spread some awareness to the public. I love being an advocate for positive ostomy awareness and education and am so thankful my ostomy gave me my quality of life back. My ostomy has impacted my life by forcing me to learn new skills (like pouch changing and troubleshooting), giving me the opportunity to reassess what's important to me (career, relationships, lifestyle), and by introducing me to an incredible community of people I likely wouldn't have met otherwise.
I have to purchase ostomy supplies, change my pouch regularly and make sure I am cognizant of my ostomy with regards to chewing my food, movement, traveling and attire. I have found that I can still digest all of the foods I want to eat so long as I chew and stay hydrated.
I can exercise however I choose as long as I use good form and protect my core. I travel everywhere I want to, participating in all the active adventures alongside my non-ostomy friends. And I wear clothes I find to be stylish and comfortable. Though my style has shifted a little bit since my surgery (I now love high waisted pants), I have not felt held back by clothing options and still tend to wear form fitting outfits.
Not everyone has the same experience as me. Some people have a different perspective toward their ostomy. Others continue to face challenge after challenge within their disabilities.
This is where my imposter syndrome kicks in.
I wonder who am I to talk about living with a disability when mine feels like such a normal part of my life. But then I remember that this experience has been hugely significant to my life and if I've had such a fortunate experience having most of my health and quality of life challenges solved by my disability, it's possible for others to have a similar experience.
I often don't feel like I fit in with the "normal" crowd or the "disabled" crowd, and that may be the hardest part of living with a disability, for me.
Can you relate to these feelings? What has living with a disability been like for you?