I’ll be honest, I have no idea where the last year went, but it’s been two years since my ileostomy surgery on August 21st, 2013. Two years since I willingly gave up my diseased colon, and traded it for an ostomy bag – it was the best decision at the time, and I have zero regrets to this day.

What have I learned in the past two years?

In the past two years, I’ve learned that an ostomy can be a gift in disguise. I know that’s hard to believe if you don’t already have your stoma yet, and fear can be hard to overcome until you’ve walked through that door, but trust me on this.

An ostomy can be your new beginning, so embrace it.Eric, VeganOstomy.ca

I’ve learned that despite the reason for someone needing to have an ostomy, many of us have overcome multiple challenges, and most of us have even set new goals for ourselves. If you haven’t already read some of the inspiring stories that others have shared during my interview series, please check them out HERE.

I’ve learned that the only limitations I have are the ones I set for myself, and while an ostomy might come with some new challenges, my stoma won’t stop me from doing what I want to do (don’t let yours stop you!).

The first step was the most difficult. 

The idea of surgery was the most difficult step to take in my journey, but I was fortunate enough to have discovered several “successful ostomates” on YouTube who almost immediately shifted any negative implications that surgery might entail.  By success, I mean these people weren’t slowed down by their ostomy, and they made the decision to not let it hold them back.  They are a great example of what posttraumatic growth looks like.

From that moment on, it’s been full steam ahead; and I hope that by sharing my story and experience, others who are about to take their first step, will know that things do get better after that point.

Sharing my experience with others

I’ve learned over the past two years that sharing my experience as an ostomate can not only helps others, but I find it to be therapeutic for me as well.

I would encourage any ostomate to share tips and ways in which they’ve been able to manage their ostomy, if they are comfortable doing so. It can be rewarding, and it can also be the start of many positive friendships.

What will the next year bring?

I never like to predict things, especially with the uncertainty that comes with having Crohn’s Disease, but I do look forward to seeing what the next year might bring. Perhaps it’s getting to try a new ostomy product, witnessing the rise of a new ostomy advocate, or trying something that I’d never think I could do.

Whatever the future might bring, I’m glad to be able to experience it in a way that seemed impossible to me only a few short years ago.