By: Karin Camposagrado

Learning that I wasn’t alone in my health journey has been one of the most impactful experiences as an ostomate, and that lesson started before I even had surgery. How cool, right?

Sitting in my hospital bed facing ostomy surgery, I got a new “roommate.” I don’t really remember how we started talking, since I couldn’t see her, but it turned out that she was close in age to me and had just returned from surgery to have a loop ileostomy placed in anticipation of a J-pouch. I got to pick her brain about her experience living with an ostomy for the past three months in her 20’s and her answers were so reassuring and supportive.

During that same hospital stay, I was having trouble figuring out what low fiber foods to order from the kitchen when the person on the other end of the phone asked if I had IBD. Yes! I must have also told her I was facing ostomy surgery, because she revealed that she also had Ulcerative Colitis and an ostomy, and offered to come up to my room after work and meet. She’d had her ostomy for 20 something years and had had two or three kids with her ostomy. She showed me her pouch on her body and spent the time to answer my questions and share her perspective and tips.

Meeting both of those women and hearing first-hand about their positive experiences with their ostomies during such a fragile time of my life was such a gift.

I went into my surgery with confidence that life was going to be okay.

As I was healing from surgery and learning how to navigate the intricacies of life with an ostomy, I decided to start a website to share the information I was finding. I added a blog so I could share my own life experiences with an ostomy as well. I’d been feeling really overwhelmed by all of the questions I had and hoped that other new ostomates would feel comforted by the information I was sharing.

Over the years, I’ve been able to help numerous new ostomates and folks facing ostomy surgery through my website (and now through 11 Health!), offering the same support that those two women offered me as I faced my ostomy surgery. Being a part of the ostomy community by offering support to new ostomates has been one of the most inspiring and impactful experiences for me throughout my journey in life.

Did you have an ostomate support system (or a Patient Coach?!) as you faced ostomy surgery?