life with an ostomy. candid, not sugar-coated. empowered, not embarrassed.

Apr. 26, 2006

Unabashed Gut Spilling

In March I was interviewed about having Crohn's Disease for a health show on a local radio station. Click this here text to hear the 48-minute editted broadcast.

The interview was pre-recorded, and I didn't know when it was going to air. One day in late March I hopped into my car at about a quarter to the hour, and heard my voice over the radio... talking about poo and the like! God it was weird hearing myself going on.

A quick disclaimer: In retrospect, I realized I was bullshitting somewhat about the advances made in diagnostic procedures... I suggested they had changed since the '90s and then made reference to a small camera that people can swallow which takes pictures of one's intestinal tract. This, as far as I know has been invented but is not in common usage. I think I made it sound like this procedure is getting used a lot, and kind of feel like I have my head up my ass on this issue, so to speak.

Apr. 23, 2006

Easy, breezy travel tale...

I just returned from out-of-town, and I was gone for 15 days total. Guess how many times I changed my flange. Guess. No really, guess. Once! How crazy is that? Of course, I changed my bag every couple of days as usual, but the flange must have been sealed by angels with ostomies. I changed my flange at home the day I left, then one week into the trip, and I will probably change it later on today.

This is one case where I am glad I didn't use everything I packed- I brought enough supplies to do a change every day (and based on past experience, that is not excessive or over-cautious... a trip to Florida a few years ago had me changing my bag daily)!

Apr. 16, 2006

In the face of gendered clothing

In the summer of 2003, I hosted a travelling marketing tour for kids. Appearance, according to my boss, was everything. This guy, who I discovered seemed to only hire women who were all tits and teeth, also had some pretty firm ideas about how women should be dressed. He seemed to think that since I was slim with large breasts, it would be a foolish business-mistake to not use that to maximize our audience's size and attention span.

Before the tour started, my boss had t-shirts made for all of the hosts without any consultation. When I saw the shirts he'd ordered for all of the girls, I was a bit... you could say... hesitant. They were tiny and went down just past my belly button; and this was before they were washed. Since the job called for a lot of moving around on stage in front of an audience, I was starting to feel really uncomfortable about the prospect of being constantly paranoid that my bag could be poking out beneath the tiny tee at any point during a show.

The guys had regular t-shirts, which I looked at with envy.

Fortunately, my boss announced to everyone that he hadn't yet ordered enough for everyone to have a decent supply of shirts for the summer, so if we wanted any particular sizes, to speak up now. Thank god! I quietly requested some men's shirts. With the way he looked at me in front of everyone, I might as well have asked him to order me a strap-on dildo.

With all my co-workers in the room, only one of whom knew about my bag, I looked him in the eye in the sharpest way I could that might cause him to remember that I had an ostomy and said, "I don't feel comfortable wearing the smaller shirts." This time, I might as well have been speaking Yiddish. He was unbendable and oblivious, and it wasn't until I left the room with tears welled-up in my eyes that he clued into the fact that my request maybe wasn't just another one of my crazy liberated-woman ideas.

In the end, I got the shirts. I asked him the next day if he realized why I was so upset and he apologized saying he didn't realize until later that it was the ostomy that was the issue and that he felt like a jerk.

But what I didn't ask was this: ostomy-or not, does a woman really need a better reason than feeling uncomfortable to say no to wearing something that's too revealing for her?

Apr. 13, 2006

Back at the Beach

One of the many people I met while working as a nude beach vendor was a fellow ostomate. I didn't realize he was one the first couple of times I saw him, but it finally clicked when I realized his little pouch never shifted from covering his lower-right abdomen... of course, it was a cover for his ostomy. Just like my little apron was a cover for mine.

The next time I served him, I asked him about his ostomy. There was a distinct language barrier between us, but I'm fairly certain that he overplayed it and feigned misunderstanding, until I lifted my apron to show him that I had one too.

There was a flash of surprise and relief on his behalf, and we exchanged smiles of understanding. I was amazed that it took me- an ostomate- so long to figure out what he was hiding inside that rectangular pouch that hung from a belt around his waist. I guess it shows how truly concealable ostomies can be.

I sold juice to my fellow ostomate several more times before the end of summer. We didn't talk about our ostomies or anything; it just a graceful secret that somehow meant we were connected.

Apr. 7, 2006

My huge underpants

Pre-surgery, I think I used to call them panties. That word no longer suffices to describe my undergarments. I hear "panties" and I think dainty and pretty. No, I wear underpants.

There was a short time when I tried to wear pretty little panties post-surgery, but I can't stand the feeling of my bag not being totally contained in a strong cotton weave. Unless it's all packed inside, gas will inevitably bulge over the top of low-riding underwear. Plus, little panties just aren't strong enough to keep my poopy bundle packed tight against me. Not that I like it super tight, but tight enough so that say, 200mL of soupy poop will be squished out somewhat evenly rather than accumulated in a clearly visibly lump-in-my-pants at the bottom of the bag.

I've slowly come to embrace and love the granny underpants I wear. My underwear drawer is filled with no less than 20, maybe 30 pairs, mostly black, but a few white ones too. Apparently, offering brilliantly-coloured or super-cute choices to consumers of this type of underwear is not a priority for the designers (yes, designers of Elita, I'm talkin' to you).

Of course, I had to get over the stigma of granny underpants. Not traditionally cool, not traditionally sexy, I've had to make them my own. It was a couple years before I could stand in front of a full length mirror and like the way I looked in them; I've even built up enough confidence to look at myself in my granny underwear and think: nice.

Now naked is a different story. I'm not sure there will ever be a day where I'll walk nude past a mirror and think my god, you sure wear that bag of shite well girl! work it! Who knows though, it has only been four years.

Apr. 3, 2006

The Fear of Stoma Rape

Somewhere along the line I developed this odd but overwhelming fear that someone might rape me in my stoma. It happened when I was walking home one night, and for some reason, was having rape scenarios run through my head. I figured that if someone was sick-in-the-head enough to rape a woman, chances are the sight of my ostomy and/or lack of anus could make them do something REALLY fucked up.

Then I graphically imagined myself getting raped in the stoma. Normally I have a hard time freaking myself out, even though I have a fairly wild imagination. This time was different. The fear of getting raped in the stoma actually haunted me for a month or two.

I imagined my intestine ripping apart from the skin of my belly, blood and feces spilling everywhere, including my insides. And then the girth of the penis stretching and tearing the intestine and the hole in my skin even further. I imagined blood and feces running down the sloped ground of the hidden embankment where my crude vision took place, and being left for dead there in the cold.

I'm pretty much over the fear now. But it led me to do some research on the Internet. I came across ostomates' discussions where a girl said her boyfriend was dying to fuck her in the stoma, and one guy's professed yearning to fuck a stoma. Then I spoke with some female ostomates I know who admitted they were afraid of what I had been afraid of too.

Soft, wet, warm, tight hole... should I really be surprised?