Ahhhhh, summer! It brings up a variety of emotions and images. Running through the sprinkler. Popsicles. Bubble blowing. A slower pace. A longer hike. A chill-out session at the pool or the beach. A car wash. Summer lovin’.
Do you have any plans for summer? For many of us with an ostomy, summer can bring feelings of fear. What bathing suit will I wear? Will anyone know I have an ostomy?
Funny story: right after my ostomy surgery, when I was healed enough to swim, I wanted to go swimming but was concerned that people would know I had an ostomy. I wanted to be inconspicuous. So what did I do? I wore a full-length unitard in the pool! As if wearing a trapeze artist uniform wasn’t going to draw attention to me! I was so concerned about what others might think.
It’s been 20 years since my surgery. And I’ve learned over those years that most people are too concerned about themselves to pay attention to me. They’re worried whether their backside looks fat or if they should have bought that bathing suit!
My goal this summer, instead of being fixated on how I look or if anyone is privy to my ostomy secret, is to embrace the season, soak in the warmth and get out there and take it all in. I want to catch fireflies, have a water-gun fight and pick flowers. I want to make a paper airplane and see how far it flies. I want to plan a scavenger hunt with my family that ends in a Passion Fruit Smoothie party. I want to go berry picking and have berries stain my face! I’d love to catch a few fish, throw a Frisbee and lie on a blanket, gazing at the stars with those I love.
My ostomy doesn’t hold me back from doing one of these things. I am not my ostomy and my ostomy is not me. Sure, it’s a part of me … an important part. But I manage it and it goes with me wherever I go, in obedience! Yeah, it can have a mind of its own but I’m always smarter and I am always one step ahead of it.
So go out this summer. Do what you do. Enjoy the warmer, longer days. Breathe in the smells of summer and bask in the sun. Wear a bathing suit and let the water pour over you. Have fun and be free!
YOUTH RALLY Shout Out
A couple of summers ago, I had the privilege to attend the Youth Rally in Boulder, CO, as a Counselor in Training. I worked with kids between the ages of 11 and 17, all of whom were dealing with some sort of bowel or bladder diversion.
I cannot say enough about Youth Rally and what an important part it plays in the lives of these young people. For once, they are in an environment with others who fully, experientially understand them. To find someone there without an ostomy or diversion is next to impossible. It’s a safe place for them to share and connect…not to feel different.
This year, the Rally will be held July 7-12 at San Diego State University. It is an awesome experience, not only for the campers but the counselors, WOC nurses and administrative staff.
ConvaTec, our parent company, is a proud sponsor of the Youth Rally through charitable contributions and grants. Please visit www.rally4youth.org for information on how you can attend, support or connect with the Youth Rally. Click here to read more about my experience.