Ostomy Bags: Raising Awareness & Dispelling Myths About Colostomy Bags by Megan Demmler
I have an ostomy. I was not always comfortable with the idea of living “the bag life,” but after over 15 years of living with ulcerative colitis, losing my hair to medications and losing my dad to colon cancer, I was ready. My bag gave me my life back. “Stewie,” my stoma, helped me learn to accept that life doesn’t always work out the way we plan and we have to find the silver lining in all situations.
Anyone who meets me learns pretty quickly that I live with a bag. I have used this opportunity to teach people about Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis and to educate people about ostomies. I was given this life to help others and to advocate for those who don’t feel like they have a voice.
Last month, a 10-year-old boy named Seven Bridges hung himself in Kentucky. I first read that he had been bullied about his ostomy bag and the “smell.” I did a little more digging and found out that there was more to the story (as there usually is) and that he had been bullied for his bag but also that the smell was from a reversal that had a leak. It angered me to know he was bullied for a health condition he couldn’t control. It also reminded me why I advocate for others.
I’d like to address a few myths about ostomy bags to help other people “normalize” them:
- Ostomies smell. Unless there is a leak or a failed filter or it is being emptied, there is no odor.
- Only old people have ostomies. People of all ages have ostomies, from babies to grandparents.
- Only cancer patients have ostomies. There are several medical conditions that may require permanent or temporary ostomies.
Teaching others about ostomies is just one part of addressing the problem. The larger part is teaching children that everyone is different. Our differences make us unique and our uniqueness makes us amazing.
If you have any questions on how to address the topic of ostomies, please feel free to reach out to me via my blog, Goolie’s Guts, on Facebook.
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