I won’t bore you with too many details of my surgery, but I assure you, it was pretty rough. In short, the surgeon cut through my stomach muscles, cut my bowel in half, sewed one end up and brought the functioning end up to the surface. This functioning end was then stitched to the skin and formed what is known as a stoma. From then on, each day you take a colostomy bag, cut the size hole of your stoma into the adhesive part of the bag, stick it on and away you go! Its supposedly just that easy! Of course I wouldn’t know because at the time of writing this intro I’m off my tits on morphine and can’t get out of bed without someone lifting me, let alone change my own bag. You’d be surprised, you don’t really realise how much you use your stomach muscles for until someone cuts through them with a scalpel! But this is something i’ll have to update you all on a bit later.
Since I wrote that little intro I have come home from the hospital, and have started to adjust to life with my new friend. Most people name their stomas, if I’m honest that weirds me out a little bit, but who knows…personally I’d rather name the bag – preferably after who ever has pissed me off recently, so I can have a giggle at the fact they’re truly a bag of shit – silver linings and all that right?
I recently decided to open up about my surgery on my Instagram and it has honestly been such an incredibly experience. I’ve has so many amazing messages of love and support. It’s made be feel incredibly accepted. We all struggle with insecurities, whether they’re related to body image, financial status, or social acceptance, and they often leaves us questioning our own self worth. Aside from the support, my biggest surprise after so public announcing my surgery has been that I’ve found that there is actually something incredibly freeing about admitting such vulnerabilities. I’ve come to believe that in doing so we actually relinquish their ability to hold such power over us. I’ve found in admitting this massive insecurity and by allowing myself to be vulnerable in this way its allowed me to cast away a lot of the shame connected with it.
Growing up, like many, I had a lot of issues with my body image and self confidence. This has generally improved in recent years, and thankfully in general we are all making leaps and bounds in terms of body acceptance. A new wave of Instagram is pushing body confidence, embracing what makes you different, and loving the skin you’re in. That’s something we can all get behind. Maybe life with a bag is slightly more idiosyncratic than cellulite, but I’m desperately trying to apply the same principles.
But as we all know, you don’t just wake up one day and decide to be confident in your skin – you have to learn to love yourself. Its a process, and for the most part it’s an uphill battle. I think one of the biggest steps is actually realising that and accepting there are going to be bad days. So far I’ve approached this new addition to my body in a positive manner, in fact, I would go as far as to say I like it. As bizarre as it sounds I’ve spent 5 years fighting a completely invisible illness and this is almost a proof of my struggle, therefore I find myself wearing it like a badge of honour. I wake up every morning and remind myself that I am no less worthy of love, connection, or belonging because of this bag. But I do this fully aware that there is going to be some days when I don’t believe myself, and making allowances for these moments is what really counts.
I’m not really sure I’m qualified to be giving anyone any serious advice, but all I can say is learning to admit your vulnerabilities is an incredible experience. You’ll honestly be surprised when you find this leaves you more connected to those around as opposed to distanced. Whether its admitting you’re nervous to the audience before a giving a presentation, or having the courage to wear that bikini to the beach. If I can learn to love this bag, and see that anyone worth holding close doesn’t see me as any different, I promise, as hard as it might seem right now, you can learn to love your tummy.