From North Central Oklahoma Ostomy Outlook May 2014:

Short-term Ostomate: A Point of View

by Katy Duggan; via Pomona Valley (Upland, CA) News and Views; and Chippewa Valley (WI) Rosebud Review

One day I was on vacation in New York and simply feeling constipated. The next day I was in a Seattle emergency room signing a consent form for a resection (surgical removal of part of my bowel) and a possible ostomy. As an RN, I took care of many a child with a colostomy and could only remember the awful skin breakdowns that many of the kids had on their abdomens. I remembered the struggles to keep the old style appliances on their fragile bodies. I was feeling scared, confused and incompetent to take care of one on my own body. My surgery resulted in no ostomy, and I was relieved. I had only a colon cancer diagnosis to deal with post-operatively.

Five days later, I found myself again faced with a consent form for emergency surgery for complications. This time there was no doubt that I would have an ostomy — an ileostomy. The surgeon assured me that it would be only for eight to ten weeks, and then it would be closed. The assurance vanished with the first visit of the oncologist. He did not want me to have a third surgery, recover from that operation, and then start chemotherapy.

Now my challenge was to face nine to ten months of taking care of the ostomy on my body. Even as professionally trained as I was, I had all the same fears as those who must face living a lifetime with an ostomy. I kept telling my family I just wanted to pay a nurse to come in each week to deal with the bag change and any problems. I wanted someone else to deal with “it.” I had to have help for several weeks but gradually became less “scared,” not as “confused,” more “competent” as each week passed. Although, as I write this, I am closer to the surgery date to reconnect my bowel, I have walked the road each ostomate walks. Between chemotherapy side-effects and learning new skills for managing an ileostomy, I am a stronger, more competent individual.

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This page last revised 2014-05-05
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