By: Rena Münster

For me, part of adjusting to life with an ostomy was getting involved in the ostomy community. I remember being overwhelmed with emotion walking into my first UOAA support group. It was refreshing to be in a room with 25 other people who all had an ostomy. Their presence made everything feel normal for two hours.

My group (Metro Maryland Ostomy Association) meets once a month to either learn from a guest speaker or break out into discussion groups based on the type of ostomy you have. Throughout the year, our speakers range from psychologists, surgeons, dermatologists, dietitians, ostomy product suppliers, and even other fellow patients. We are also lucky to have three WOCN's who attend our meetings and are at our disposal to answer questions and provide support.

At the start of my ostomy journey going to these meetings was helpful since I had a lot of questions. Now that I feel pretty comfortable with my ostomy, I attend the meeting to be a support for other new patients who come. There is also always new information to learn and I feel like I am able to be a better Patient Coach by attending these educational sessions.

I have been lucky to connect with a few other younger attendees of the group. It’s been a blessing to be able to connect with them outside of the support group structure for more social gatherings. Recently I hosted a group of young ostomy patients at my house for a brunch!

If you are feeling isolated in your community and down about your ostomy, I encourage you to go to the UOAA website to find a local support group near you. I can assure you that the people who attend are waiting to scoop you up and help you along your journey.

Do you attend a local support group? How has this helped change your perspective on having an ostomy bag?