Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - 25

OSTOMIES Adapting After Treatment
years after my diagnosis, when I took two
weeks off work and took my first major trip
since being diagnosed. I was taking a plane,
train and car...literally!
On the first leg of my trip, I hopped on a
plane and flew by myself from Cincinnati,
OH to Philadelphia, PA. I had received a
scholarship to attend my first United Ostomy
Associations of America (UOAA) national
conference. I was nervous about having to
deal with TSA as I've heard absolute horror
stories from some ostomates in groups about
their experiences. I followed a lot of the tips
I had previously heard. I emptied my ostomy
before going through security and before
boarding and I carried my UOAA TSA Travel
Communication card with me. I, fortunately,
had zero issues and arrived in Philly with no
ostomy mishaps.
When I arrived in Philly, I took a shared ride
in a Lyft with an amazing, friendly driver. The
topic came up of what brought us to Philly,
which in turn led to a conversation about my
diagnosis. The driver was not familiar with
ostomies, so I had to explain what they are.
The driver's questions were appropriate and
not at all intrusive. By the time he dropped me
at my hotel, he wished me luck and asked if he
could give me a hug. I consented. He shared
that he could not begin to imagine what I'd
gone through, but he was impressed with my
outlook on life and that I had traveled on my
own so far for a conference. I thanked him for
his kindness and off he went. I made sure to
give him a great tip and review later!
At the conference, I took part in a lot. I was
on a panel regarding advocacy, attended lots
of presentations, ate a ton of amazing food
(Philly cheesesteaks will never be the same!)
and made a ton of friends. I even dressed up
as my superhero alter ego, The Social Butterfly.
At times, I had to stop and remind myself of
everything I had been through less than two
years prior as I was thoroughly exhausted at
the end of each day to the point that I missed
out on some of the evening activities and hanging
in the lobby with the folks my age late into
the night. Still, I did it...and had a ton of fun.
Once the conference was over, I took the
train - for the first time EVER - through
Grand Central Station, transferring to another
train and continuing my trip. I got off the train
in Utica, where a close family friend picked
me up to take me to Eagle Bay, NY. Eagle Bay
is a peaceful, Adirondack Mountains town. A
typical tourist and summer-resident town. I
stayed a week with her there, walking, hiking
in the woods, swimming in the lake and doing
tourist activities in a place I had heard about
for 30 years, but was experiencing in person
for the very first time.
At the end of the week, we drove back to
Cincinnati. It was an amazing two weeks. I
was thoroughly exhausted. Still, I did it all and
loved it! It was the first time that I remember
truly living my best life since my diagnosis...
completely.
So often providers and young adults do not
move forward with having an ostomy or other
fecal or urinary diversion as a treatment option.
I don't know if it's fear of the unknown
or misconceptions of having an ostomy. Some
people are concerned that quality of life will
be an issue with a diversion. There are very
few circumstances in which your quality of
life will be worse with an ostomy.
My quality of life dramatically improved
with an ostomy. In fact, I've been able to continue
striving to live my best life because I
have an ostomy. In addition to being able to,
you know, LIVE, I have continued to reintroduce
the physical activities that I did prior to
cancer back into my life - it's a slow process,
but I'm going to get there - and I have made
the transition from working in a position that
I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with
to working for myself from home.
I am now doing freelance writing, advocacy
and other projects. Since I have made this
transition, I'm less stressed, happier and better
able to care for myself on a number of levels.
This leaves me with more time and energy to
do the things I really want to do. Financially,
I'm not quite where I was or where I want to
be yet, but I'm slowly building it up.
The key thing is that ostomies do not slow
your life down - cancer does! With a little extra
planning for supplies and safety measures,
you can do anything you want with an ostomy
that you wanted to do without an ostomy. You
can skydive, mountain climb, travel, dance
burlesque, wear bikinis, go shirtless, and, if
you so choose, yes, even have kids! (That's not
my jam, but if it's yours - pursue it!). The only
obstacle you have living with an ostomy is the
one inside your own head!
Don't let the fear of living life with a medical
appliance stop you from living your best life.
I haven't, neither should you!
Don't worry about what others will think
about you or your ostomy. The only thing that
matters is what you think. Live your own best
life - whatever that looks like for you. I mean,
we all can't be Oprah anyhow!
If any of our readers are facing the possibility
of an ostomy and you'd like to talk about it,
you can reach out to me directly, or you can
go to https://ostomy.org for more information
or to find an affiliated ostomy support group
(ASG) near you. The UOAA will be having its
next national conference in Houston in August
2022. Anyone who is interested in learning
more about ostomies is welcome to attend.
" Don't let the fear of living life with a medical
appliance stop you from living your best life. I
haven't, neither should you! Don't worry about what
others will think about you or your ostomy. The only
thing that matters is what you think. Live your own
best life - whatever that looks like for you. I mean,
we all can't be Oprah anyhow! "
ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
SEPTEMBER 2021
25
https://www.ostomy.org/ http://www.ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM

Elephants And Tea - September 2021

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Contents
Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - Cover1
Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - Cover2
Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - 1
Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - Contents
Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - 3
Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - 4
Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - 5
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