Hello my lovely Pelican readers!
I hope this month is treating you well & I’m sending gentle & healing hugs your way if you need them.
October 1st is “International Day of Older Persons” aka #UNDOP on Social Media.
In an older post, I did some myth-busting which you can read here.
Stomas are NOT just for older people
Today, I wanted to address this myth as it’s a common misconception that a lot of people (including myself before surgery) have.
Before I had my surgery, I hadn’t come across many people who had had stoma surgery at all. Instagram wasn’t a thing in 2011 and the social media community wasn’t something I was a huge part of and to be honest, it wasn’t something that had really taken off at that point.
Up until a couple of years before my surgery, I’d only known of older people who had had a stoma formed. My Uncle, who is sadly no longer with us, had a stoma formed due to severe Ulcerative Colitis. This is when my eyes were opened to the possible needs for stoma surgery at a younger age.
So, why do we think this?
I can obviously only speak from my own views here, so I’m not speaking for everyone. However, for me, it wasn’t something I thought out of ignorance or being too judgemental. At the time, the reason I thought stoma surgery was for older people only, I guess, came from me assuming that having a stoma was a last resort option at life, so naturally (following life’s “normal” trajectory) would only happen as we get much older.
This photo above was years before I’d even heard of stoma surgery, when I was struggling with my Crohn’s. I’d never experienced otherwise or known of anyone else, until my Uncle, who was younger. My eyes had never been opened to this so it was more the fact that I was uneducated in this and didn’t understand, rather than it being a view out of stigma. I’ve never personally seen why there should be stigma around having a stoma, however, I do feel that stigma, if you like, does come from a lack of understanding in the majority of cases. This is why it is so important to educate, raise awareness on having a stoma & share our experiences through talking. Nowadays, Social Media is a great way to do this & is a big reason why I run my Instagram & generate the content that I do.
Having stoma surgery as a 19-year-old
Shortly before my surgery, I was introduced to a nurse who was a similar age to me who had had stoma surgery. This made me feel a lot more comforted about having a stoma at a young age.
In the months that followed my surgery, I came across more younger people online who had had stoma surgery and also met people at different stoma events I attended. The more that time passed, the more I realised that stomas are for anyone of any age, and that they certainly don’t mean that life is over.
Having a stoma, for many people, isn’t the end
It’s just the beginning. For me, it saved my life. It gave me my life. So many things I have experienced down to my stoma, even the more simple things we can often take for granted such as being able to eat without pain and taking a walk down the street without having to panic where the nearest toilet is.
Having a stoma is definitely nothing to be ashamed of… it’s the complete opposite! Part of running my Instagram is to help others to feel stoma confident & to create a safe space for them to go to. I endeavour to show people reality, so I share both the ups and the downs. I embrace my stoma bag because without it, I would have no life to embrace.
You own your stoma bag, it doesn’t own you.
Don't forget to share this post!