Don’t Feel Sorry That I Have an Ostomy

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“Is your ostomy permanent?”

I’ve come across that question many times since having my ostomy, but it seems that when I answer that question (with a “yes”, obviously), I get told how sorry people are for me. This needs to stop! I feel incredibly fortunate to have my ostomy, and I don’t feel sorry for having one.

My message is directed towards anyone who knows an ostomate, but more importantly to doctors and nurses, who should know just how important an ostomy is to us! I’ve had many amazing home care nurses during my recovery from both ostomy surgery and my proctectomy, but when some of them said how sorry they were for me having a permanent ostomy, it made me wonder if I shouldn’t feel so grateful.

Maybe the “norm” is to feel sorry for ourselves, or sour at the fact that we’re now living with a bag, but what good would that do any of us? Perhaps I can attribute my positive attitude to Posttraumatic Growth, or to the fact that so many ostomates are living life to the max and don’t let their ostomy limit their enjoyment of life one bit; many people see their ostomy as a second chance to live!

If you need to say that you’re sorry for something, feel sorry about the situation that leads to someone’s ostomy; maybe it’s having Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, being diagnosed with colon cancer or having been in a terrible accident. Offer them support if they’re struggling, but don’t feel sorry for the operation that likely saved their life or greatly improved their quality of life!

Not only am I fine with having an ostomy, the reaction “oh, I’m sorry to hear that” makes people feel uncomfortable as if there’s something to be ashamed of living with a permanent ostomy. So please, before you say that you’re sorry, consider how that person might feel by your reaction.

QUESTION: How does it make you feel when someone says they’re sorry that you have an ostomy?

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3 Comments on "Don’t Feel Sorry That I Have an Ostomy"

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Guest
Eric , there are some people whom I’ve met that feel having a permanent ostomy is the worst thing that can happen to them. Most patients I visit need one because they have cancer, but about 70% are able to have them reversed at a later time. I think that most people are vain to some extent and they don’t understand the benefits of having one. I made a video last year to help demystify ostomies for those who might have to have one. These days there are so many products that can hide the ostomy, including “girlie” undies made… Read more »
Member
ambies

I always say oh please don’t be sorry, if I hadn’t had my ileostomy I wouldn’t be here . It does frustrate me when people comment like that ,but I guess there not very knowledgable about it. So if I can I try and educate people. I don’t go around telling people but if they ask then I’m honest. ..