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

Oct. 15, 2007

Not hiding

I stood under the hot shower at the YMCA staring at the piece of bloodied broken condom on the tile floor a couple feet away from me. I'd just flung it there after a half-assed attempt at swooping menstrual blood out of my vag with my finger. Half-assed because I was standing in the shower area with one other woman and my social conditioning reminded me it wouldn't be cool to squat in the shower and do a full finger excavation. But as I stood there looking at the bloodied piece of latex, I wondered what was more shocking.... that? or the ostomy bag hanging off my abdomen in full view?

I've gotten much better - much better - at not getting worked up about being naked in the changeroom. Still, sometimes when I part the towel I have wrapped around me to expose my bag in front of the mirror and blowdry it, I wonder if I am being watched. I am not ashamed. And if I feel ashamed, I hear my mother's voice asking me why I am ashamed and why should I have to change my behaviour because I have a bag? Just carry on and do as you always would. Then I start to think about how blowdrying my bag is just practical - because if I don't, my underwear will get wet, and invariably soak through to my pants, leaving an awkward wet mark just northwest of where it might look like I'd peed myself. But it becomes political. It becomes some sort of indignation, or at least I wonder if that's how others view it when they see me blowdrying my bag. Anyway, I would rather them think that than feel sorry for me.

The woman in the shower with me was busy in her own world. She didn't see, and if she did, my bag and the bloodied bit of condom on the tiles were of little consequence to her life. At the same time, if they had somehow ruptured her sensibilities, then I guess that's good. There was nothing forced on my part. I was just showering and cleaning myself. If someone were to be shaken or disturbed by my bag or that little bit of condom, it's her that needs to open up a bit, not me that has to hide.