From Stillwater-Ponca City (OK) Ostomy Outlook Oct 2002:

An Enterostomal Therapist??

by Sharon Williams, RN,CWOCN; via Oklahoma City (OK) OSTOMY NEWS

Note: This article by Sharon Williams (who will speak at our upcoming Oct 21, 2002 meeting) was written just a couple years after she received her training.

Being an enterostomal therapist is indeed interesting. Several months ago, I decided to jot down a few of the "lighter" moments that have occurred since I started in enterostomal therapy... fact is stranger than fiction!

The first inkling I had that I was entering a unique profession happened a little over a year ago. A group of Canadian enterostomal therapists were coming to the annual Enterostomal Therapy Conference in Chicago. The therapists made it to the conference, but their slides of patients' stomas never made it past customs. It seems they were confiscated as pornographic materials.

You know the saying, "Call me anything-just call me?" Well, at times I wonder how some of my mail ever gets delivered. As of this date, I have received letters addressed as follows:

  1. Intestinal Nurse (no name)
    Baptist Hospital
  2. Sharon Williams
    Appliance Therapy
    Baptist Medical Center
  3. Sharon Williams
    Prosthesis Nurse
    Baptist Medical Center

In addition, many of my patients have imparted endearing nicknames upon me. One gentleman referred to me as the "lady from Glad" and another as "Josephine the plumber." I generally dislike nicknaming stomas, but one colostomate of long-standing referred to his stoma as "Albert," and I of course, was "Albert's friend."

My official hospital name tag has the title "Enterostomal Therapist" under my name. This title has sparked many lively comments on elevators and in hallways. A few brave visitors will ask me what I do... most just stare, look at my ostomy supply basket, and swallow hard. However, I have been asked if I am:

  1. A beautician
  2. A manicurist
  3. In respiratory therapy
  4. From the laboratory
  5. A dressing specialist

Children tend to tear-up when they see me, but then I console myself by remembering that many get panicked upon seeing any figure in white. Besides, most kiddos can soon be won over when they see you're only bearing "big bandaids," not "needles," as one little girl put it.

It is the day to day surprises that make life interesting and rewarding. As ostomy surgery becomes more well known and enterostomal therapy becomes less of a mystery, perhaps I will see fewer puzzled expressions on people's faces. However, I shall always treasure the few "lighter" moments that have occurred thus far.

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Content last revised 2002-10-14