Waking up and seeing my stoma for the first time was one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through but not as hard as suffering with Crohn’s disease for the last 10 years. Being in hospital away from my children for 3 weeks after having the operation was heart wrenching as I’d been in hospital a few times before but not for this long. My youngest daughter was 13 years old and my eldest daughter 17 and I’d been a single Mum for 12 years doing everything for them. Providing a home, working full time and being a mum was very hard especially when you suffer with Crohn’s disease.
My girls accepted the fact that I had a stoma very well. I think they saw it as my life saver and they knew that I truly wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have my stoma.
In the first few weeks I had some issues with my stoma like sore skin and leaks so I was very nervous going out but I really wanted to grab hold of normality and do things with my girls that I hadn’t done for a long time.
I remember going to the cinema with Livi, my youngest, and during the film I got up to check all was okay and at the end of the film, again, checking everything was ok. That was when I had my first leak outdoors and it really threw me and I could see worry on Livi’s face too which made me pull myself together, sort it out and be brave for her sake. I think because I adapted really well with the stoma it made my girls more at ease with it. Livi had seen my stoma when I was in hospital, she watched whilst the stoma nurse was changing my bag and she wasn’t squeamish at all. The situation with leaks and sore skin didn’t last too long although at the time it felt like forever! Once I found the right bag for me things started to get a lot better and I began developing confidence. I always took an emergency supply of bags with me wherever I went just in case I had a leak but fortunately I have never had to use it. My girls being teenagers were at the age where humour would really help with situations. I found by laughing at certain things like the smell of the bathroom when I’ve just emptied my bag really does lighten the fact of having a stoma. They made jokes about me not having a bottom, in a very jovial way, and we all laugh about it and I think that has really helped in coming to terms with it all. After all they do say laughter is the best form of medicine don’t they?
It’s been 2 years since I had my op and I do think sometimes they forget I have a stoma as I don’t let it stop me doing anything at all. Life really is so much better and my girls feel they have their mum back. We go swimming, cycling and all the things we did before I got sick. We even spent 5 hours in a water park on holiday and I went on most of the rides!