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.


Blogger Ozymandius said...

I am about three weeks after having my ileostomy formed. I stumbled upon your blog last night and read a few entries. But I got tired, so I bookmarked and said I'd come back to it.

I just finished reading the whole thing in one sitting and wanted to leave you a note to thank you for sharing. Reading about your experiences have been educational and I can already feel some thoughts moving around that will eventually form a changed opinion about how I feel about it all. They way you feel about your stoma is inspiring already, and I'm still processing the whole thing.

But mostly, you're damn-funny. :D Go insider ostomate humour!

9:09 a.m., October 19, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! I love your blog, and I'm very happy you updated it.
You are a very good writer, and a very interesting person as well.

Have a nice day!

10:49 p.m., October 22, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said something in your radio show about nutrition and crohns disease. I'd like to hear more about what you think the correlations are. What do you think caused your disease? What sorts of foods are best and most harmful? Do people in other parts of the world suffer from crohns.



1:33 a.m., October 23, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get why you had the condom in the shower with you...

5:36 p.m., October 24, 2007

Blogger amy said...

YAY, YOU'RE BACK!! I'd been checking your blog every once in a while hoping you'd put in a new entry, and every time, I'd be disappointed.

I'm so glad to read yet another beautifully written blog entry!!

-Another Amy (odd coincidence)

5:27 a.m., October 28, 2007

Blogger ~mypinkbutton~ said...

i only had a piece of a condom in the shower with me - and it was way up my vag because me and my partner had had sex that morning and the condom broke.

for those of you astute readers who wonder why i was using a condom while i was menstruating -thus not fertile- it's because i was having totally irregular periods and wanted to be safe.


PS- i am in Japan right now... the toilets here are amazing!!

12:55 p.m., October 28, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

love you, miss you, happy to see you writing again!!!



1:11 a.m., November 14, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! I'm a regular reader and was reading the comments. I just wanted to point out that a woman CAN become pregnant when on her period. A friend of mine (a doctor) confirmed this for me.


1:30 p.m., November 24, 2007

Anonymous jillian said...

I'm totally cool with your bag but draw the line at vaginal excavations in the shower at the YMCA. That is really gross and unsanitary. "Just showering and cleaning myself" doesn't extend to flinging around articles soaked with your menstrual blood in a public shower. Get a grip.

1:27 p.m., December 17, 2007

Blogger Ruth said...

Hello, thanks for being so utterly honest about life with a stoma. I don't think I've ever seen anyone be so frank like you have, but I'm grateful you are. I too have Crohn's and have had 6 ops. I used to have an ileostomy but it was reversed. However I remember all the problems i used to have with it (it used to leak loads and my stoma bag kept falling off and I used to worry when I was out in public what would happen if it leaked then - which it did several times, and I hated it. I was so relieved to get it reversed although I know that I might need one again one day). I think you cope with it all so admirably, you are an inspiration. Take care, Ruth x

7:14 a.m., January 24, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just stumbled on your blog. LOVE LOVE LOVE it..... I am a fellow assless wonder with an ileostomy. Your blogs are right on point...keep em coming! Sue

8:07 p.m., February 01, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i found your blog somewhat randomly through itty bitty kitty committee> can i buy a bowel

i do not have crohns, but your blog really helps give me some perspective. i have ibs and have struggled a lot with anxiety and shame related to bathroom issues. thanks so much for reminding me poop is nothing to be ashamed of.

12:46 a.m., February 23, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for this blog. i'm a student nurse and i have cared for a few people with colostomies so far. i always thought it would be "gross and scary", but it's not at all.

honestly now, i think i'd rather empty someone's colostomy bag, which is usually a pretty clean process --- rather than wipe an incontinent person's bum, which is often way more embarassing and odiforous.

kudos and hugs for you.

7:28 p.m., March 01, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for sharing your experiences. I started reading about you in the "poopreport" after trying to find some information on this topic. As a student occupational therapist I am constantly trying to hear about/read life experiences so that I could maybe getting a slightly better understanding about what a person could be feeling/dealing with. You have helped me immensely, thank you! I hope you will write again soon:)

8:02 p.m., March 04, 2008

Blogger Emma said...

Thanx for keeping it real!

5:01 p.m., March 08, 2008

Blogger Reb said...

Hey, I just found your blog after reading a post on the Poop Report (I had been researching hot and horrible garlic farts, of all things). I am looking forward to reading your archives because I grew up with a dad with an ostomy. He had colorectal cancer when I was 11 (I'm now 44). So he's lived with an ostomy for 33 years. It's always herniated; he's had several repair operations to no avail. The stench can be horrific and he lives in fear of living beyond the time when he can care for his ostomy himself (today's his 85th birthday). But despite all this, he's never complained once about having an ostomy. Not once. Whenever anyone mentions how difficult it must be/have been all these years, he always replies, "But think of the alternative!" Thanks for sharing your experiences. I've read two with interest and really can't wait to read the rest.

9:46 p.m., March 19, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like another dead and abandoned blog!

11:16 p.m., March 22, 2008

Anonymous Sally1898 said...

Just finished reading your blog from start to finish,and can't wait for more.I am a 10-year survivor of Stage 3 rectal cancer,and have a colostomy I've named Pedro--I gave it a name and identity once I realized the damn thing had a mind of its own, and I was just along for the ride. Your pictures of the surgery site (so THAT'S what mine looks like!!)and of the whole bag-change process were so farmiliar,yet seeing it from outside myself was incredibly validating.I know many hundreds of thousands of people have had these types of surgeries, yet almost none will speak of the reality of dealing with it forever-- stinky, messy, unpredictable,yet unavoidable,permanent, and possibly lifesaving.You absolutely ROCK for totally giving the no-holds-barred,show-and-tell-it-like-it-is TRUTH.Please,keep writing!!!

5:43 p.m., April 20, 2008

Blogger Behemoth said...

Hi Just found your site, GREAT and so frank and truthful. I can relate to some of this stuff having a protocolectomy / ileostomy operation back in 1994...arrgh
Keep writing I have marked this as a fav site so I will be back to read all the items.

best regards from a visitor from the Isle of Man.

2:36 a.m., May 28, 2008

Anonymous David T Connolly said...

Hello from a fellow bagger. You're quite the inspiration! I was diagnosed in August 2006 with stage IV colon cancer and got pretty much the same surgery. The anus removal has been the most painful thing to me. Now I know how a cored apple feels. Sorry to hear about the sleeping bag episode. I went hiking on the Appalachian Trail in the middle of my chemo (hiking with a chest catheter is the pits!)and messing up the inside of my sleeping bag was a big worry at first, but thankfully it hasn't happened. Good luck in the future and I've bookmarked your blog so I'll be a regular reader from now on!

12:54 a.m., August 31, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, thank you for writing this. I had Ulcerative Colitis for several years through high school and Uni. I just had the illeostomy in early august 08. Reading your blog really helped me to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with life. Its nice to know that there are others in similar situations. We should have conventions or something, with thousands of pimped out washrooms.

10:21 p.m., September 17, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Girl, you nasty. Scooping things out of your vajajay belongs in a toilet stall.

3:08 a.m., September 18, 2008

Blogger Allison said...

Your mother is a wise woman.

9:46 p.m., September 30, 2008

Anonymous jackets said...

I hope that you are still writing. I had my surgery one year ago. I did no research. I knew nothing. I just knew that I had to put an end to 20 yrs of pain and accidents. I literally could not get the mail without really planning it. Any travel would require 2 days of no eating and drugs. No one tells you about the smell, the sores on your skin, the accidents, the gas. I woke up one morning with what looked like a small inflated football sticking out of my side. Thank you for your words. I wish I had found you sooner. Please, please do not stop. I check your blog every day.

3:01 p.m., November 07, 2008

Blogger tk said...

Jesus -- i love this blog.

12:09 a.m., December 18, 2008

Blogger Merrill Mason said...

Oh Pink Button,
I am so happy I discovered you! I am off to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC tomorrow to get the news on my failed--or not failed?--anal cancer treatment. My hometown docs think a permanent colostomy is a necessity. Your butt-kicking approach is an inspiration. Thank you for the dark humor, insight, and psychological fuck-you-ness.

8:06 p.m., May 14, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you start writing again soon. Your blog is very insightful.

12:31 a.m., July 27, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am with jillian. Flinging bloody pieces of rubber around in a public shower is FAR more disturbing than a bag you NEED. Yuck!

1:22 a.m., October 16, 2009

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9:30 a.m., November 07, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I agree but I contemplate the list inform should prepare more info then it has.

5:07 a.m., December 27, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And still variants?

10:56 a.m., December 31, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

7:32 p.m., January 05, 2010

Anonymous Alicia said...

My grandma had a colostomy for the last 10-12 years of her life, and I think it's awesome that you have a blog about you and your life with your ostomy.
I actually found it after I googled that "pink button" vagina dye, not believing it was real.
I read through most of this though, and just wanted to let you know that my grandma was so liberated by her ostomy (she had had lymph-node cancer in her 20s, and received cobalt radiation that pretty much destroyed her bowels, which she lived with from the early 60s until '96 or so when she got her ostomy), and just that I think it's awesome that you are sharing your story online.

1:45 a.m., January 14, 2010


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