TINA Y. GERBER
Special to the Standard
An ileostomy is a surgically created opening in your abdomen that allows waste to leave your body. The problem with an ileostomy is, when it is not properly sealed the stool comes in contact with skin, causing irritation and damage. The pouch may also detach, causing all of the pouch contents to spill.
There are other types of “ostemies' to perform much the same function for other people who've had surgery for different but similar conditions. Many people with ostomies continue to lead/lively active lives, they dance, travel, go to church, have relationships, enjoy family and grandchildren.
You can be young, old, big or small, but health challenges do not discriminate as to who you are or how they affect your life.
It is normal to feel sensitive about how an ileostomy changes your body.
A well meaning friend asked me once, ''How do you and Martin manage to have sex?"
Another time a friend directed him to sit in a 'safe chair', it was not intended to be hurtful just a careless statement.
Relationships can be complicated at the best of times. I know my husband wasn't sure how to tell me, and told me on our first date!
The more you share about your ostomy, how you feel, and what you need, the stronger the bond between you and your spouse becomes. When you feel comfortable with your partner or spouse be open and honest about any anxieties you may have. With time and a positive attitude, you can still enjoy a mutually satisfying sexual relationship.
Trust and communication are at the heart of the healing process, and a meaningful, fulfilling, and intimate relationship can and will exist.
I love my husband and I know that sex is an important part of any healthy, loving adult relationship.
The pouch does get in the way sometimes, such as shortly after we got married the pouch fell off, and the contents were everywhere. My husband, at the time, remembered how compassionate I was about it. After all, I married him, not his ileostomy.
While in Peterborough last week, as my husband was leaving the gas station, his pouch fell off completely! He picked it up and carried on.
I would encourage anyone with an ostomy, “Do not let it hold you back.”
More than likely your spouse won't be bothered by it, and will likely be supportive.
I would also suggest talking to others with ostomies.
Whether it's a support group in your community or on line, getting advice from people who've been there is a great way to boost your confidence, when adaptingto life with an ostomy.
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