Life with a stoma doesn’t have to be miserable

Something which really annoys me is when people assume that life with a stoma bag is miserable. What’s even worse is when the media portrays them as a negative, bad thing. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have seen me go on a bit of a rant against an article which the Daily Mail published.

The article in question was actually about advancements in bowel cancer surgery. Seeing advancements like this is actually amazing and it’s great to see how far medicine is coming. What isn’t great is how in the headline of said article stated;

“The bowel surgery that spares patients the misery of ‘the bag'”

This bothered me. This bothered me a lot. 

Firstly, life with a bag doesn’t have to be miserable.

Don’t get me wrong, somedays can be bad. But it isn’t had all of the time. Before I had my surgery, life was very miserable. I was in a lot of pain. I was loosing a lot of blood. Eating was not a fun time; I couldn’t eat a lot of food, most food made me really ill & in the end I couldn’t eat at all because it was too painful. A lot of time was spent in bed because of fatigue; I wouldn’t go out with my friends and was basically incontinent. Let me tell you, that was a miserable life to have, especially at 18 years old.

Flash forward to having my stoma. The first six months were tough but since then, I’ve slowly but surely got my life back. Yes, there are days when I feel like shit, physically and mentally. But guess what. My life isn’t a permanent state of misery. I’ve moved out. I’ve got a first class honours degree in Law and started my masters. Along side uni, I’ve got a part time job. Because of my stoma, I have a new sense of confidence. It made me face my mental health struggles and I actually got help for it.

My life is definitely not miserable because of my stoma.

But negative statements like this can have such a detrimental effect to patients who have stoma bags

Let’s get this straight, no one out right chooses to have a stoma bag. We have them because we were really ill before. Having one at 18 was definitely not in the life plan but it happened. It takes time to get used to having a bag. Not only do you physically have to heal, you mentally have to heal too. To then see a headline saying how life with a bag is miserable could really set someone back. It could make people who are waiting for surgery feel even more anxious.

A negative statement like this also alters how people understand what life with a stoma bag is like. Already, some people don’t understand it and make insensitive comments. Ideas that life is miserable with a bag could lead to more of this. It’s not a great situation and there really needs to be more understanding and openness about ostomies.

Medical advancement is great, but don’t be negative about other options

I’m all for medical advancements and finding new ways to treat illnesses & disease. Finding more accurate treatments and surgeries is a necessity. However, that doesn’t give you the right to bash treatments which have saved a lot of lives and is successful in it’s own way.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to explain why I’m choosing to keep my stoma bags rather than trying a j pouch. For me, it’s the best option. Once I’ve had my final surgery, I’m technically cured of ulcerative colitis. Yes, it isn’t the most ideal cure but it’s a damn sight better than what I was facing before.

Just because somethings new and produces different outcomes doesn’t mean that the old way is automatically a bad thing.

I feel like the headline was very misjudged, done to get more views and just was not thought through.

I’d love to hear your views on this so let me know what you think in the comments

Katie May ❤️

Ostomy section sponsored by SecuriCare & CliniMed