"It's hard to see the light when you're caught up in your life/You're scared and insecure cause now it's fight or flight/Can't think of giving up/You don't know how much you're loved". We are all stars waiting to shine inside.
Today is World Ostomy Day. Never heard of something called an ostomy? Don't worry, you're not alone. I hadn't heard about an ostomy until one day the doctors marched in and said that this was what was going to save my life. Let's go back a bit so I can explain. When I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease in 2012, I was rated on the severe end of the scale. My entire colon was completely swollen, constantly bleeding, and not absorbing or breaking down food the way it should. We tried everything to make it calm down a bit, but no amount of pills or IV meds were helping. The doctors were very worried as we tried to stop the inflammation that my colon would perforate (explode). My colon had to come out (and I made the decision to donate it to science to find a cure).
I was terrified of the surgery at first. I was worried that people would know, of how it would look and feel, and what it would mean for my future. I was terrified that I'd start to leak in a very public place and be teased by others for it. There were a lot of negatives I could think of, but not that many positives.
I had my surgery February 2013, they took out my colon and made an ileostomy. This is a surgery where the very end of the small intestine, called the terminal ileum, is "re-routed" to a surgical opening in my skin and then sewn there to hold it in place. The result is called a stoma. A colostomy kit (a big bandaid type thing with a bag attached) then goes around my stoma to collect my waste.
There's such a fear out there when it comes to ostomies. Most people think that it's older people who end up having an ostomy, but I've met a lot of kids like me who need one to treat IBD, or to treat colon cancer, or other diseases of the intestines. It doesn't make US different, it just means that we poop (or pee) a bit differently than others.
Looking back, I wish I could tell my old self that it would all work out, that it wasn't as bad as people think. An ostomy saved my life. I have been able to talk to other kids waiting for their surgery and share my experience with them. To tell them that I used to worry about what other people would think if they knew. To say that if you're bullied because you have a stoma, it just shows people's lack of education about it all. To say that most of your ostomy nightmares won't come true. I want people to know that living with an ostomy changes you, but it can be a positive change. Don't let other people tell you otherwise.