I'm sorry that you've been so ill, but I've found that having an ileostomy ( for 50 + years) has been a life giving, experience. Welcome to the site.
My name is Marsha, and when I got sick, with Ulcerative Colitis at age 12, I was a anomally to the doctors. UC was thought of as an " old persons" disease. But after 4 years of all kinds of medical treatments that failed, there was no option left for me, except surgery. I was 15, and I was so grateful to go back to school and resume a normal life....that I gave no thought to having an ostomy for a lifetime. That's youth for you. I was glad to be able to be out and about, start dating , go to parties, be out in the sun, be able to date....without being in pain, or being tied to a bathroom ( 40 x a day/ night). There were some difficult time, and dating ( revealing) wasn't always easy, or pleasant, but I knew that my ileostomy was my badge of survival.....and I remain grateful...
I'd been very active in ostomy groups, as a teen ( after my parents dragged me kicking and screaming to my first meeting.) There were no ostomy therapy/ wound care nurses back then, and ostomates visited and helped each other. I became a " visitor", and helped young children adapt to their surgery. It was usually more of a parental issue.....with parents reluctant to let their kids manage life on their own... When I married, moved to NJ, and had my two children, I pretty much gave up ostomy meetings, except for an ocassional ,meeting or convention. I pretty much lost track of all the wonderful friends I'd met. But I didn't care because I was caught up in raising my kids, car pooling, and going back t o college ( to be a teacher myself).
When I came across this site a number of years ago....I found I'd really missed the communication with people who were going through things that I had experienced. And so I joined the site... I'm one of those people who post a lot, so I kept getting free months, and so I stopped paying....and kind of lost touch for a few years.
A lot had happened during that time.... so when I caught up, I paid for lifetime membership, thinking that I'm going to have the ostomy for a lifetime....so I should/ or wanted to support the site... I really bellieve in " paying things forward" so when I met a lovely woman on here, from Papua New Guinea.... I knew I wanted to help. Janet was requesting unused supplies for work she was doing in her country ( where poor people have no access to surgical supplies)
My son lives in Australia, so when I went to visit a few years ago, I packed a suitcase full of ostomy supplies, and brought them to Australia. A member of the ostomy association on the Gold Coast, got them to a person who was flying to Papua NG, and took them to Janet, who used them for needy children/ & other ostomates.
The few dollars I spent on being a lifetime member was less than I'd spend on a gourmet dinner, or family celebration. It made me feel good, that I could reach out and help......and I remain grateful for those who set up and maintain this site.... I wish you the best of luck. Feel free to write, ask questions, and post replies. WE all try to help each other... Marsha