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.

178 On Retreat

I think I have heard from at least three people this week on the topic of retreats.  People are feeling called.  But they want to “go”.  There is something pushing from the outside, asking us all to GO within.  Longing for a location is holding people back.

The water is my chosen retreat location.  When I have the umph to travel, I go to rivers, lakes or oceans.  A shower will do the trick in a pinch.  Sometimes, with the apparatus involved in my daily life, there are days without a shower.  If you are working with a gratitude list, remember to value that you can take a bath or shower.  Some of us cannot.  It is a luxury.  Sponge baths do nothing for my soul (or my hair).

Everyone has somewhere or something that assists in the connection to Spirit. But improvising is much better than neglecting the call.

I can improvise with yard work, because being in nature works for me too.  I can also travel to local water features.  We have a lot of beaches, and even McCollum Park has the beautiful sounds and sights of the creek, just minutes from home.

Beyond finding a location is intention… and follow through.  This may be more difficult than getting beyond the wish to retreat.  It must become a priority.

Although it makes me feel busy, and chemotherapy is already a full time occupation, I signed up for a couple of “events” online that create the container for “retreat”.  One came through Starfeather’s Meetup groups (searchable with her first name on the Meetup site).  It is a weekly group with closed participants, and holds me in a space of eight weeks of intention.

Another is an eleven day event through Amber Kuileimailani, in her Woman Unleashed programming.  It holds me to daily introspection, intention, and soul searching.  This one is called Soul Success Initiations.  I think I paid $22 for it.  Money, or lack there of, does not need to define your retreat either.

Retreat leader Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici
Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici founder Woman Unleashed

The two messages are working well together!  Fused. Merged.  All elements of retreat.

The hardest part of the inner journey is quieting the outer world.  When we cannot escape our roommates, we have to figure out how to create the elements of escape WITH them, or at least while embracing their presence.

A daily walk, or an hour behind a closed door, or just an early morning time of focus can work.  Amber’s program is at 6am Pacific time; no one is up (and it is recorded for people who need alternate timing).  With Starfeather’s group, we also meet on zoom, but I take my computer behind closed doors.

Retreat.  The universe is asking for it.  Your soul is calling.  Find a way.