Ask Me About My Shitbagby Lizz on Friday, September 6, 2013 14:46
Before we get started here, let me offer a disclaimer. I affectionately refer to my ileostomy bag as a, “shit bag.” My stoma is named STELLAAAAA,
but if you read this blog, you know I have an affliction called writer’s potty-mouth and thus, “shit bag” is my term-of-endearment-of-choice.
Shitbag Etiquette: If you have an ostomy, you can call a shitbag a shitbag, OR if you are sans ostomy and use the term in a positive way, you may also call a shitbag a shitbag, but if you use it in a mean-spirited way, well…then we have a problem don’t we? Luckily, all our readers are AWE-some and I just used that last bit to say, “shitbag” a lot. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s proceed with the post
So far, Stella has been wunderbar. We had some minor issues as she was healing from this summer’s surgery, but now we’re getting along swimmingly. Speaking of which, check out my sweet Vanilla Blush bikini!
Things have been busy with Girls with Guts. We’re preparing for our first Retreat at the end of the month. Last month, we were in Jacksonville, FL for the United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA) conference, where we exhibited, met lots of awesome ostomates, and led a couple of sessions.
Shortly after that, hubbs and I headed to Portland to celebrate a friend’s nuptials, eat delicious food, and enjoy Oregon wine country. One of my BFF’s, who also refers to my ostomy as a shitbag, was very inquisitive about it, as this was her first in-person experience with mine. Which brings me to the inspiration for this post. EVERYONE and their mom asks me about my ostomy. Not because they can see it; they can’t. I strut around in tight pants and dresses with nary a bulge. If anyone knows about Stella, it’s because I can’t stop talking about her! Side Note: If you haven’t checked out The Great Bowel Movement‘s “Ask Me About My…” awareness gear, you totally should.
My friend wanted to know what the bag looked like, how it worked, how I emptied it. I gave her a demo during a bathroom break at the reception. This was all met with utter fascination, not repulsion, mind you. But, I don’t really expect repulsion when I show off Stella. She’s the bee’s knees. Another friend, who happens to be my waxer, gets to see Stella from time to time and she often reminds me after I flip the bag out of her work space, “You don’t have to hide it! Your poop bag doesn’t bother me!” Tonight she wondered, “How does that work anyway?” She didn’t get a full demo, but a mild tutorial.
These interactions make me realize a few things: 1. I have wonderful, supportive people in my life. 2. TMI? Nah. 3. Shitbags are awesome. 4. Curiosity and eagerness to learn something new almost always outweigh a negative association. Maybe it’s the way I present myself, but my theory is, if you present your shitbag without shame and with a good sense of humor, people aren’t going to say, “EW, gross,” and walk away. They’re going to be genuinely interested, because, when you think about it…It’s pretty amazing. We’re walking, talking, pooping medical wonders who have fought like hell to survive. I refuse to be ashamed of my strength and anything that’s helped me flourish.
Like most things in life, IBD, internal pouches, farts, ostomies, are all just a matter of perspective. Most people think my ostomy is fascinating and pretty nifty because it makes me feel better. If someone can’t see beyond that, chances are, they don’t have great perspective, and thus, seem quite boring. I don’t do boring. You probably shouldn’t either.
So go forth and tell the world about your IBD, J-pouch, or ostomy! Note that this doesn’t mean IBD, et al becomes your identity, but taking an opportunity to educate and advocate is a wonderful way to help others suffering with IBD. Having someone understand, just a little bit, of what we have been through and go through, somehow makes this journey a little easier. If we all paid it forward and lived without fear and shame, think how much better the world might be.