Manbag #18 – Stoma

This was my first piece of post stoma writing – before I’d invented the idea of #manbag – it was my first raw expression of what I had become. The initial sentiments are largely unchanged – the most interesting point is that 9 weeks later, despite the need expressed in the last few lines I had come to terms with my condition and chose not to go for a reversal. See Manbag#9. Anyway, a more lyrical take on my Stoma.


It happened so quickly, rapidly increasing momentum, fear, relief, fear, accelerating to a terminal velocity raw headfuck.
Reflection – I need a sense of perspective, a sense of place and person, a need for context.
To date when I have removed the pouch the pink maw dominates the view, condensed as it is between the bottom of my stomach and the top of my thigh. It dominates to the extent that I don’t even see the six inch stapled scar that is two centimetres to the right.

I need a sense of perspective.
Stoma – Latin for an opening
I stand naked on the middle landing of our stairs at home, in front of a full length mirror. I observe my revised body. The pale skin just above my abdomen broken by a pink orifice. Now when I can see all my body it represents a small part of me, say, two percent.
Two percent.
A sense of perspective. Two percent of my body will not define me. It may shape my trajectory for the next twelve months but it won’t define me.

I need a sense of place.
Stoma surgically – where part of your bowel is pulled through an opening in your abdominal wall and stitched in place.
I am part of a tribe of approximately sixty five thousand people in the UK, around 1% of the UK population. One in 500 people have some form of ostomy, of which half are colostomies. That’s a pretty exclusive group.
What are we?
‘a gaggle’
‘a flock’
‘a drift’.
I scan through an online thesaurus.
My eyes settle on ‘a covey’.
A ‘covey of colostomists’ – that is my tribe

A need for context.
Stoma – it is an internal part of you, made external, it can no longer look after itself, it is alive but has no nerve endings, no feeling.
I didn’t want this, who would?
I could rail against it, howl at the moon in anguish, but it would change nothing.
I look again, two percent, as it settles over the next 8 weeks that could become as little as one percent.
One percent, hardly anything.
But important nonetheless.
I have a choice
I can rail or I can nurture.
There is a better than evens chance that my colon can be reconnected.
I would like?
That to happen.
So I choose to nurture.

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A 50 something film and digital photographer based in Kendal, Cumbria. Blogging about mental health, mental wellbeing, living with a colostomy and music memories.

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