There’s not a lot of knowledge when it comes to ostomy bags unless you have one yourself.
If you are reading this you might be currently dating someone with an ostomy, and you want to have more of an understanding of this person and get an idea about life with a bag or if there’s anything you need to do or talk about before dating them.
So if the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘do I/don’t I’ type questions crossing your mind a lot, here are 11 things you should know before dating someone with an ostomy bag.
1. It’s an invisible illness
Take into consideration that some people with ostomies are still ill, even if they don’t look sick. The ostomy bag might have somewhat made them better and saved their life but it will still take its toll on our body and can affect us day to day.
2. Sex is not an issue
A lot of people probably think that having an ostomy will cause problems in the bedroom – but that really isn’t the case. It doesn’t affect your sex life unless you allow it to. There are many things an ostomate can use for intimate occasions like ‘belts’ and ‘wraps’ to give them more confidence also.
3. It’s just poo!
Yes we have a bag of poo on our stomach, but we don’t smell and it will rarely leak unless the person is having problems in that section. Please don’t be scared because it’s poo. We all poo, we can just see where ours is coming from!
4. We don’t want sympathy
Please don’t feel sorry for us or make us feel bad for having a bag, we just want to get on with it like ‘normal’ people.
5. Sometimes we can’t be social
We can’t always attend things spontaneously because most of us prefer to have a heads up so we can make sure everything’s okay and we are feeling well enough to go to these social occasions.
6. We may feel self-conscious at times
But we appreciate you making the effort to make us feel good more than you’ll ever know.
7. Many of us are picky eaters
Food is a big thing with a lot of us with ostomies. We can’t always eat what we want and there are certain foods that our ostomies just don’t get along with and can make us ill.
8. An ostomy is not a disability
We are more likely able to everything you do. A lot of ostomates swim, hike, dance and do many activities – depending on their current health situation of course!
9. We may make more trips to the toilet than you
When out and about we might have to stop at the toilets a few times to empty or check our bag just to be on the safe side.
10. We love educating you
We don’t mind you asking questions, we would rather you be open and ask questions and be interested in our life (the good and the bad) than you hold back and not be open with us!
11. Please don’t feel embarrassed
Please don’t feel embarrassed when talking about it with your friends or family – if we’re not embarrassed you shouldn’t be either!
Having an ostomy does not take over our lives, we don’t want you to feel under pressure or like we need constant affection, we just need to know you’re there for us and love us just the way we are.
Words by Danielle McCormack