“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?