Stereotypes, myths, misconceptions and assumptions. These things that can come across as very unpleasant to the recipient and appear harmless to those who haven’t experienced the same thing. I’m sure I am not the first person with a stoma to say that there are many misconceptions about stoma bags and ostomies. So, I’m hoping to tackle the current stigma on them, help people understand and help teach them something new! Keep reading to see some common myths and the truths about stomas.
- Stomas are for old people
First of all no. Second of all, why do people tend to correlate disabilities with old age? Like what’s up with that! You can have a stoma at any age for a number of reasons, this includes babies. You can also have more than one depending on the condition and its severity.
- Everyone is going to be able to tell
Not true, there are many ways you can help cover a stoma bag, from special ostomy belts, underwear to normal clothes! To be honest, I (and many others) have managed to wear skin-tight clothes and still hide the bag pretty damn well. In all honesty, no one will be able to tell unless 1, you have your bag hanging out 2, you’re walking around with a full bag or 3, you’ve shouted it from the rooftops. I think if you have an ostomy you tend to think it’s visible through clothing but nine times out of ten you’re only thinking that because you know it’s there!
- Say bye to intimacy
Okay so being brown, I have to be brief on this one… there is nothing to say you can’t have a partner and be intimate with a stoma. I repeat… NOTHING!
But what I can speak about is the fact that having a stoma doesn’t make you in any way, shape or form unlovable or unattractive so don’t ever think you have to tolerate any disrespect.
- Stoma bags smell
They really don’t. I mean the bag itself has a filter and there’s a tonne of products that help diffuse the odour. You can get them in a whole range of scents from mint to lemon to apple and even cinnamon. The smell can change depending when you eat but to be honest you’re only really going to notice the smell when emptying (just like any normal person having a number two).
- You may think people with stomas are unable to do any kind of sports
Whilst you may need to be a little more considerate with contact sports such as football and mixed martial arts, people with stomas can in fact still go to the gym, run marathons, ski, sky dive etc.
Be sure to have a word with your IBD/stoma specialists beforehand to make sure it’s suitable for you.
I can honestly say when I first opened up about my bag and when I speak about it online, I don’t face negative comments and I’ve never had a negative comment said to me by a stranger about my bag either.
When I’ve been on the dating scene and I’ve opened up about it, the reaction has been nothing for me to worry about or get upset about. People either react in a positive way or aren’t phased about it. But bear in mind I’ve only mentioned it once I got to know the people and the type of person they are.
It goes without saying that it’s easy to make assumptions, even I’m guilty of that. However, it’s also easy to do a quick Google search before potentially hurting someone’s feelings.