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October 13, 2016

Living Life Fully with Your Ostomy – Part 6: Advantageous Attitudes

In my last post, I focused on the value of attending ostomy care conferences as a means to personally connect with companies, professionals, and fellow ostomates. Doing so can have a direct, immediate and powerful positive impact on your quality of life.

When attending such a local conference myself, I was struck by the thought that all of the people there were actively seeking to improve their own lives. They either already were, or were on their way, to taking control of their ostomies. Not everyone with an ostomy chooses to do this.

I remember talking with a young man who had had an ileostomy a couple of months before. The more we talked, the more it became obvious that he was literally devastated by the fact that he no longer had a colon, and that he would have an ostomy bag attached for the rest of his life.  He seemed convinced that his life was over. Period.  

And I have met and heard about other folks who are either scared of, or disgusted by their ostomies, some to the degree that they won’t even touch them.  These people are totally dependent on others, be they professional caregivers or their own children, to clean and deal with their ostomy and ostomy equipment. These people are controlled by their ostomies.

And yet, I have also met and heard about others who, like the conference attendees, had learned to take control of their ostomies.  From these sorts of people, and in my own experience, I have observed that the following attitudes can help to move the needle in terms of living life fully with an ostomy:

  1. Having an attitude of gratitude – I realized early on that my ileostomy procedure was a gift for me to receive.  It helped me to move past the extreme challenges of ulcerative colitis and get on to finding my new “normal” life.  Have you learned to give thanks for your ostomy?

  2. Accepting your new reality – the sooner you can come to terms with the physical changes created by surgery, the sooner you can devote your time and thoughts to finding ways to do life, both the day-to-day things and the things you are passionate about.

  3. Taking responsibility for your own body – this is about becoming super aware of what’s going on in the area of your ostomy, and with your ostomy equipment.  The better care you take of your ostomy, the more activities you will be able to confidently pursue (weight lifting for example).  

  4. Adopt a can-do approach – your ostomy doesn’t automatically limit your opportunities; ultimately, it’s your attitude that does that. If other ostomates like Rob Hill (mentioned in Part 2 of this series) have climbed Mount Everest with an ostomy bag, surely you can discover ways to do the things that are important and life-giving to you!  

Chances are pretty good that someone else with an ostomy has already figured out how to do everything you want to do.  Learn from them.  Let yourself be inspired by them.  

Like many others in this world, you have an ostomy.  Accept it.  Give thanks for it.  Realize that it’s yours to take care of, and that it doesn’t have to keep you from doing what you’re most passionate about.  And then, with the support of others, do all you can to really live!  

With the help of 2 friends, we created Inner Good to help people be empowered to live well. We want to hear your story. Please send us a message or comment below.

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