By: Karin Camposagrado
It’s my Stomaversary Month! My sixth stomaversary, to be exact, so I thought I’d share my top six favorite things about my six years of life with an ostomy.
My Involvement in the Ostomy Community & Becoming a Patient Coach
Being open about my ostomy has allowed me to help others adapt to theirs, which has truly been one of the most healing experiences for me. I’ve been helping ostomy patients online through newbieostomy.com for years and am so thankful to be a Patient Coach now, offering support to more formally.
Fitness and Outdoor Adventures
I exercised before my ostomy, but it wasn’t until having my ostomy and not being anxious about the proximity of bathrooms that I really began to explore fitness and life outdoors. With my ostomy I’ve gone on long hikes, overnight backpacking and camping trips, rafting, waterfall rapelling, wake-surfing, swimming, hot tubbing, swam in hot springs, ziplining, hot yoga, barre, capoeira and more. Sometimes I found myself hesitant to try these things, but the only thing stopping me was fear – not my ostomy.
Sure, I probably could have gotten married with my ulcerative colitis and no ostomy, but my ostomy didn’t stop my husband from falling in love with me or feeling attracted to me. It’s not that he sees past my ostomy, it’s that he doesn’t see it as anything more than how I poop. I am so thankful to have found a partner and best friend to share my life with who is so supportive of me.
Attending and being surrounded by other ostomates at two United Ostomy Association of America (UOAA) National Conferences was liberating, eye-opening and nothing short of life-changing. What I love about my friends from the ostomy community is that we can relate to each other about our ostomies, but our ostomies are just how we met, not why we’re friends. Having an ostomy has introduced me to so many incredible people that I would never have met otherwise.
Pregnancy and Parenthood
I knew having ostomy surgery had it’s risks to fertility and that having an ostomy might come with risks throughout pregnancy, but having an intelligent and team-oriented group of doctors backing me helped me feel confident throughout my pregnancy. Having an ostomy allowed me to be healthy throughout my pregnancy and parenthood thus far and I am so thankful for that.
Most of all, I’m living a more full life than I lived before I had my ostomy and I truly believe I have my ostomy and the experiences surrounding it to thank for that. Having ostomy surgery gave me a new perspective on life. I realized that fear had been dictating my life and while it still often creeps in, I’ve spent the last six years actively striving to push past my fear and comfort zone, try new things, and embrace the opportunities that present themselves.
What are your favorite things about living with an ostomy?