The Young Ones
Living with a stoma can be challenging, especially so when you're young and figuring out who you are, so it's good to know you are not alone.
Twenty-seven year old Amy lives with an ileostomy and was the third youngest person in the UK to be diagnosed with IBD at the time. At the age of seven her life was changed after years of misdiagnosis. Amy recalled how her parents thought she was just a picky eater as a child and forced her to stay at the dinner table until she finished her meals. Amy said that her experience with school wasn't great, but she loved education so she needed to get a teacher for when she spent time in hospital.
When she was nineteen, she had surgery that would impact her life completely, leaving her with a stoma, who she fondly refers to as Stacey. This allowed her to become more confident and include herself more with activities of people her age. She had the reassurance to go get her freedom to be able to stop at friends' houses, or to go party.
Soon enough she met her current partner, Ben, on a dating app. Amy has become very open about her stoma and finds that she has become better at handling any negativity that comes her way (though she admits responses are rarely negative) and has no problems cutting out people who aren't accepting of her condition. She opened up to Ben after about three days of talking and he was really understanding, especially as he has a step sister with IBD.
The couple recalled their first experience with a bag leak together, when they went for their first proper meal together. After leaving the restaurant without ordering desserts, to go fill their "insatiable desire for Milky Bar yogurts" Amy's bag started leaking on the walk back home. Ben met the situation with empathy, saying he could understand how difficult it must be to have a situation "blindside you when you least expect it".
Following that situation, Ben has tried his best to support Amy whenever possible, even going so far to wear a bag from time to time to better understand the intricacies of having a stoma and the struggles Amy would be going through. The two recounted the time when they ended up pouring semi-boiling coffee into his bad by accident to emulate output!
Amy herself has went through a journey to become comfortable with her stoma and what it means for her identity. She said there are times that she rarely feels naked because of the bag, and thus likes to take bagless showers to feel enjoy the freedom of actually being naked in her mind. She also struggled with finding her place blogging, as she had difficulty with feeling conscious about her life revolving around her stoma. Eventually she developed the philosophy "You own your bag, it doesn't own you" which we couldn't agree more!