213 Ostomy Adventures

The stoma is like a superhero with shape shifting capacity, keeping it real, real(ly) unpredictable anyway.

My ostomy is like a mountain climber.  It enjoys finding new heights, new adventures, new challenges to overcome.  Do I appreciate this?  My face is distorted with puzzlement.  We all enjoy the other side, the overcoming part, the win.  So, maybe.

man wearing hoodie and black pants climbing up pile of rocks
Like a Mountain Climber Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

I have no idea what is normal.  With great intention, I have avoided research.  Information that leaps in front of me has been disturbing at best, and better to avoid.  An example of something I cannot unknow:  The stoma can separate from the abdominal wall.  No.  No it cannot happen.  Not here.  I am closing my eyes and plugging my ears and loudly singing la la la. 

Since chemotherapy is infinitely creative, constantly changing up the side effects, never the same from one cycle to the next (for me anyway), this is where I place the blame.  Not scientific.  Not proven.  Just a scapegoat in my moment.  I think the chemo changes the world of the stoma, and the outlook of the ostomy overall.

The stoma is the part of the colon that meets the world.  It sits a little lower than my waist line, to my left of the belly button.  It looks like, well, l like a round dark pink, wet circle.  It is a part of my colon that has been attached to the outside of my abdomen, making a makeshift anus without muscles, direct truth.  I have no emotion around it.  I am grateful that it functions well!  It is more a novelty than a problem.

So the stoma reacts to the chemo drugs.  It gets darker and larger.  It has actually changed shape, color, and size.  Or rather, it is like a superhero with shape shifting capacity, keeping it real, real(ly) unpredictable anyway.  

Ostomy products assume consistency, and they certainly don’t assume shifts that happen over hours of time.  I can watch the stoma change in the mirror, moving from 2 1/2 inches down to 1 1/2 in a matter of seconds.  Challenging.

I need to adhere a bag to the outside of that ring, with the correct opening size, without a shift that could loosen the bond.  Challenging again.

This will be fun for the fashionistas.  The company that makes the products is called Hollister.  The clothing company.  The ostomy product company.  I assume they are unrelated, yet, I do ponder which came first.  Is it like the Magnum ice cream company and the Magnum condom company?  

Do try the Magnum ice cream bars, highly recommended.  I will say the same for the condoms too, if that is something your world rocks… but not necessarily from memory of my experiences. I just don’t remember. But one of my life quotes to the outer world is “Wear a condom and get a two-year degree.  You will regret neither.”  No bias to one condom company or another.

Hollister.  I called Hollister.  There are very helpful consultants for all of these things.  It would be like if you owned an emu suddenly… from our family Christmas virtual gift exchange perhaps… and the emu had a breeder and vet tech professionals that helped you learn what to feed it and where to keep it.  Ostomies come with professionals, and some of them are at Hollister.

Heidi at Hollister listened to my story.  Then she had a couple of new product options shipped right to the mailbox, free and easy.  And the adventure, what works?  Try one, try the other, work with rings, no rings.  

Our lives do this to us every day.  Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes behind the scenes.  We know the big challenges.  We fight and complain and focus on the hardship.  As if climbing a mountain, I want to stop at the peak and appreciate the view.  I want to acknowledge the beauty of the journey, the moment in time where I have come to the accomplishment, and maybe even take a quick peek (peak) at the easy path down.  Just in the moment.  Here and now.

Challenges are what life is all about.  We forget.  We want to stagnate, stay off the mountain.  It isn’t a choice, the emu grabs your jacket, lifts you off the ground and violently trots your butt over to the mountain trails.  You have to climb to grow.  Grow with acceptance.  Grow with grace.  Take the moments to enjoy the adventure.

Author: Michele Plumb Stowell

Michele Stowell was a teacher, a hand holder, and encouraging voice. Born an early Gen Xer, she has lived in Western Washington for the duration. Her children, two spectacular genetic daughters and an uncountable number of marvelous scout and school sons and daughters, shine as her biggest impact and her greatest blessing. Just before her 54th birthday, Michele was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Her writing and art work are expressions of the drama and the joy of living earth bound. On October 24, 2021, Michele was released from her physical body, transported to continue her work on other realms.

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