A forgotten anniversary

Yesterday morning while perusing Facebook, I saw a post by Brian Greenberg, founder of the Intense Intestines Foundation, regarding the four-year anniversary of his ileostomy surgery on November 9th. I was thinking about how awesome it was that he had accomplished so much since his operation and how happy I was for him. Then I came to a sudden realization: if Brian was celebrating his stoma’s birthday, it meant that I had completely missed the anniversary of my own surgery. You see, when I first discovered Brian’s website a few years ago, I found out that it wasn’t only a love of the outdoors that we had in common: our surgery dates were only one day apart. When I was getting used to my first day as an ostomate, Brian was being wheeled into the operating room. I remember wishing I had known him then. We would have had much to talk about as we prepped for and recovered from surgery.

Now, four years later, I couldn’t believe I had actually forgotten about my stomaversary. It was a date I always ardently celebrated. My surgery had given me my life back and had allowed me to do all the things I loved again. To think I had let my stoma’s birthday pass by without notice made me feel sad and disappointed.

However, I soon started to look at my forgotten stomaversary differently. The reason I had my ostomy surgery was so that I could return to all the things I love and lead a normal life again. I wanted a life in which my family, friends, hobbies and career were at the forefront and health issues faded into the background. Yet in those initial weeks after surgery, my stoma dominated my world. More than anything, I just wanted to get to point where it felt like my ostomy was part of me and not something I had to think of at every moment. On November 8th, I gave my ostomy nary a thought. Perhaps forgetting about my stoma really was the best way to celebrate how far I have come in the past four years.

That said, I don’t intend to let the date slip by again. Wilbur, my stoma buddy, we will definitely celebrate your 5th birthday with a bit more fanfare next year!

Hiking the day after my stomaversary-- completely unaware that I had failed to remember the important date. I guess I was too busy trying to figure out how far I could lean into 60 mile-per-hour winds without falling over.
I went for a hike with family and friends the day after my stomaversary. It would have been the perfect chance to celebrate, but I was completely oblivious to the important date. I guess I was too busy trying to figure out how far I could lean into 60 mile-per-hour winds without falling over to think of such matters.



15 thoughts on “A forgotten anniversary

  1. Happy Belated Stomaversary! LOL So many people are having November surgery dates – it’s hard to keep track of sometimes (even our own)! So glad to hear that your ostomy has given you your life back!

    1. Thanks! You are right that November seems to be a popular month for surgery. Since your anniversary is on the 7th, you will have to remind me next year:) Great job on your blog by the way. Your product reviews are so helpful!

  2. Happy belated birthday to Wilbur!! I am glad that your life has come full circle to the point that even though Wilbur is a part of you, you have been able to enjoy your life without thinking about him. You are an incredible role model for the rest of us. (Do you think those 2 men in our support group celebrate their 20 years and 25 years or have they just forgotten it?). Heidi, as always, you are the BEST!!
    Love and hugs, eileen

    1. Thank you Eileen! It does feel good to be at a point where I forget about my stoma sometimes (though that certainly isn’t possible during those times when Wilbur is a troublemaker ha ha.) That is a good question about the two men in the support group. I remember the one gentleman had tallied up the number of times he had likely changed his appliance over all those years. I love that our group has newbies and people that have had their ostomies for a long time as well as those who have had (or are going to have 🙂 ) reversals. There is such a wealth of experience and knowledge in our group. Thinking of you as your date approaches! Best wishes, Heidi

  3. Hi Heidi! I forgot about my 2nd stomaversary until I read this post! Mine was November 9th as well. Love the 60 mph wind pic! I walked/ran in a half-marathon last weekend with 15-20 mph wind gusts. You’re totally right about reframing our forgetfulness…we’re out livin’ life and what a great reason to forget!

    1. Michelle, how funny that you forgot your stomaversary too. Great way to celebrate with the half-marathon even if you didn’t know you were celebrating at the time either ha ha. I have been doing a lot of trail running lately and it is so difficult on those blustery days. I can’t imagine doing a half-marathon in such winds. Nice job!!!

    1. Thanks Jeffrey! I hope you have been feeling better lately. Have you gone back on the gluten free diet? I am on the GF diet permanently as well. It is tough but seems to get easier every year with more and more food choices out there. Keep hanging in there!

  4. Hi Heidi!

    First of all, happy belated Stomaversary!! 🙂 Also, I noticed of course that you like to get outdoors and are pretty active.
    Have you ever heard of/considered the Stealth Belt for support during these activities? It’s an ostomy support belt designed to contain and conceal your ostomy pouch while giving support at the flange.

    Check us out – http://www.stealthbelt.com. We have some awesome promotions going on right now in November.

    1. Thank you! I have heard of the Stealth Belt. I haven’t used one as I don’t like wearing my pouch in a horizontal position. Also, my stoma sits pretty low which makes the fullest part of my pouch sit right at the bend in my leg. I am not sure the vertical Stealth Belt would be comfortable considering my stoma placement. Most belts tend to shift or roll upwards on me so I prefer ostomy boxers to hold my pouch in place and conceal it. However, I do have several friends with higher stoma placements than me who use the Stealth Belt and really love it. When people ask me about belts, I often mention it as an option even though I have not worn one.

  5. I’m amazed that you can forget your ostomy for 5 minutes. I’ve had a colostomy for 678 days and its all I ever think about. Living as a bombed-out skeleton with a painfully bloated stomach, gruesome 90 min irrigations, living in isolation b/c I always smell like crap… Looks like you got luckier with your ostomy than I did with mine.

    1. Hi JH,

      I am very sorry to hear that things have been so awful for you. I can’t imagine how difficult this must be:( Since I have an ileostomy, I have no experience with irrigation so no suggestions there. It is terrible that odors are coming through your pouches consistently. I have had that happen once in a while (though not to the extent where others would notice it) and I am never sure why. I don’t use pouches with filters, so I know that odors aren’t leaking out of them. I also never experience leaking so I know that isn’t the issue. I always chalk it up to a pouch defect of some sort as it seems to go away when I swap things out. You may have already tried this, but I have good luck with Hollister M9 odor neutralizing drops in those situations. They actually interact with the stool and make it not smell once it is comes in contact with the chemical. Since it makes the stool not smell, no odors have a chance to come out of my pouch. Many different brands make ostomy odor neutralizing drops, so if the M9 didn’t work, I perhaps another brand would. Several people at my local ostomy support group have also had good luck with a product called Devrom. It is a capsule that you eat and it is supposed to get rid of stool odors internally before output even comes out into your pouch. It looks like it might treat gas as well. I don’t have any personal experience with it, but it might we worth trying. http://www.devrom.com/category/products/. Someone also posted a link to this pouch cover product on my Facebook page: http://us3.campaign-archive2.com/?u=a99e0631373057ecee6638fe4&id=78d597fd05. I don’t know anything about it, but I thought I would pass it on. I am not sure how a pouch cover would absorb odors, but it might be something to look into.

      Anyway, I don’t know if any of this helps as I have a feeling you have probably tried a lot of things already. I just want to say that my heart goes out to you, and I hope you find some ways to remedy these issues. Keep hanging in there and looking for answers.

      Take Care,

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