Inside The Mind of a Woman
I am a single woman who has had an Ostomy for 15 years. When I first had my surgery I was very upset because I enjoy intimacy. I did not know how I would be able to continue that pleasurable experience with this new appliance so visibly hanging from my side. One of the wisest statements said to me before my surgery, by another Ostomate, was that ĒWhen I accepted my Ostomy as no big deal, I found that my partners treated it the same wayĒ. I'd love to tell you that those words of wisdom immediately took root and I never had an awkward moment sexually, but I won't lie to you. It takes time to heal both physically and emotionally. I had to come to grips with what happened to me. I had to mourn the loss of an intact body image. I had to think long and hard about whom I was willing to tell about my surgery and determine when the appropriate time to do so was to occur. In other words, I had to move myself from the place of Helpless Victim to the position of Empowered Woman.
Initially, because I felt so much better physically and was proud of what I went through to get healthy, I became the poster child for Ostomies. It was as if almost as soon as I met a man, I would hear myself saying to them: ďHi, I'm Aileen. I have a Colostomy. Can you deal with it?Ē I soon realized that this shock factor approach was not serving my purposes effectively. I was not allowing any man the chance to know me as a complete human being. They weren't given the time to appreciate me for all the fine qualities and attributes I possess. I didn't provide them with the opportunity to care for me and value who I am. At the very outset of our meeting, I had made a very scary statement to them without even explaining what it meant.
I saw that it was time to begin formulating a new and better approach to handling this topic. One of the first empowering thoughts I had was that I might not even want to be intimate with a man I just met. I began to ask myself questions like: Is this man a good human being? Does he have a good heart? Is he someone I would want to be with in a long term relationship? Does he treat me with respect and consideration? Does he acknowledge that no one in the world is perfect and that each and every one of us has some imperfections? Is he a man of quality who will accept me exactly as I am? I know these questions cannot be answered on a first date, nor should I feel compelled to sleep with any man on a first date. So, my process began by giving both myself and the man I was interested in the sufficient time necessary to get to know each other before even venturing into the topic of my surgery and our possible ensuing intimacy.
After several dates, I began to learn how to discriminate between the worthy and the unworthy men. I decided to let go of the unworthy men without even broaching the topic of my ostomy. I did not expose them to this very personal issue and was therefore not vulnerable to the rejection of an unkind or thoughtless man. With the good guys (and I'm pleased to say there have been more than one or two over the past 15 years), I waited until I felt more secure about their feelings for me. When I could acknowledge to myself that there was more than just lust between us, I looked for the appropriate time to explain my Ostomy.
The time to explain my Ostomy was not 10 seconds before we were about to enter the bedroom. I learned to carefully choose the correct time. It was after we had spent some pleasurable time together. I made sure we were alone in a quiet and comfortable environment. I tried to make my explanation as succinct as possible. They did not have to hear every gory detail of my 9 year struggle with disease. I simply said that awhile back I had been very sick and the best way to rectify the situation was to have surgery. I tell them my doctor performed an operation called a Colostomy and ask them if they have ever heard of it. If their answer is yes, I feel like I'm almost home free. If their answer is no, I tell them my disease was in my digestive system and it was necessary to divert part of my bowels to improve the quality of my life. I then say I have a permanent bag attached to the side of my body. Yes, I know the word ďbagĒ is not the most politically correct terminology, but it is a word far easier for them to understand than the word appliance and all the connotations that might arise in their minds from that word (no I am not wearing a toaster oven or iron on my side!). I tell them it's somewhat like a big bandage that doesn't hurt me and won't affect the quality of our intimacy at all. I just wanted to let them know it was there so they wouldn't be surprised when we were intimate.
Now I felt ready to have our first intimate encounter. As I navigated my way effectively through the timing of explaining my surgery, I also took as much control as possible over the timing of when and how we were going to be intimate. I waited until the evening and lit several candles in my bedroom. Candle light certainly gives a softer, gentler hue to a room than broad daylight does. I had also planned ahead what I intended to wear. Would it be a pretty pouch cover? Or maybe some intimate wear that had snaps or an opening at the crotch. How about a beautiful, classy My Heart Ties cover? That's a gorgeous new option I have now added to my repertoire of indoor intimate wear.
I am pleased to tell you that I am currently in a very fulfilling relationship with a kind-hearted, generous of spirit, caring man who is also quite sexy in the bedroom. This is not an overnight miracle for me. I spent years working on the above process and to this day continue to look at feelings of insecurity when they arise. I personally spent time in therapy working through these issues. I then decided to go back to school and am currently a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I specialize in counseling people with chronic illnesses, especially Ostomates throughout the United States. I feel that I have learned to live a happy and productive life. My dream is to share this knowledge and wisdom with anyone who has not been able to achieve this on their own. If you have already done this by yourself or with help from others, I say bravo to you. I welcome you to the ranks of our healthy, empowered sisterhood. Isn't life grand?
If you have not yet achieved this level of inner peace and acceptance, I promise you that day can arrive. Trust in yourself and have faith that you can accomplish anything that you sincerely put your mind towards doing. I'm here for you, if you want my help in getting there. I have that trust and faith. I will gladly share it with you until you are able to internalize it for yourself. My wish for you is health, happiness and a life full of daily joy and contentment.