Hi, I’m a stoma! I am great when you think about it. I must admit I have upset many people. Some people even consider me crude, rude and socially unacceptable. Well, excuse me!!

Just about everyone gets bent out of shape when their doctor says, “It may be necessary to create a stoma”. Me!! They make it sound like a dirty word. Listen, it isn’t the greatest for me either. I’m usually created from a piece of your intestines. I guess you know all about that. And then, just maybe you don’t. So I will tell you.

Becoming a stoma wasn’t my original function. No sirreee!! I used to just lie there in your abdomen, minding my own business. Then boom!! Some surgeon decided – let’s make a stoma. He had a nerve! Why?? How could he consider such a thing? Well, I guess it was because you hurt so much, because you were very sick from a disease like Ulcerative Colitis or cancer, from a trauma like that automobile accident or from a birth defect. Your surgeon knew that by putting me to work, you could be free of discomfort and problems. In truth, so you could get on with living.

If that is why I was created, then why do so many people complain about me? Did you know that I am not given to just anyone? You see, there is a lot of planning and evaluation of each human being before I am created. So I know you can say only a “chosen” million or so are lucky enough to have me. You see – my people are special. My people are not like the normal run-of-the-mill people. I must say it takes them a while to recognize that fact. And, sad to say, there are a few who never do.

It isn’t easy being a stoma! Some of you just don’t understand what a miracle I am! Listen, before creation, I just lay quiet and usually content in your abdomen.

Now I work! It’s rather easy when fecal waste comes through because that’s what I’m used to. But some character decided, why not water waste as well? We then found out that character was very wise because that works also.

You think YOU have problems adjusting! Phooey. Did you realize that I am a delicate mucus membrane? Yet I am durable but some people think I am asphalt tile. Thank God, I don’t have feelings. But my friend skin does. You want complaints? Give a listen to her sometime. She really gets upset because of ulcers, fungus, irritants, barriers, etc. We are a team! And a darn good one. I’m moist, she is dry. I’m pink red, she is natural. I’m smooth, she is a little bumpy.

One of my biggest problems is my size. I am not always the same size from one human to the next. I am not always round. I don’t always protrude nicely. Then why do some of you insist that my pouch opening is always the same? You need to check my size once in a while and fit me appropriately. Your shoes fit, don’t they?

Some of you complain because I’m not pretty. Well, your anus wasn’t Miss America! I think I am attractive. I am red like a rose. I am always moist if I am healthy. And, I don’t smell. My discharge can’t help what you put in your mouth. If you care for me with thought and keep my equipment clean, that just about takes care of that.

In closing, let me say you can live a good life, a productive life. It’s up to you. Believe me, I do not deserve a pedestal life. I am just part of you trying to do my job. All I ask is that you be honest about me. The doctors, special nurses, other professionals and your Ostomy Association are always ready, willing and able to help you.

Mary Lou Thomas, RN, ET, North Arundel Hospital via OAB Bulletin, Boston — link

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