It’s not a terrible thing to have an ostomy. Most ostomates I’ve met are better off for having one. Either severe inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, trauma, or other medical issues led the surgeon to convince that person that he or she would require that life-altering surgery with bowel or urinary diversion.

I had my bladder removed for cancer ten years ago. Among my four children, two were interested in the “new me” and wanted a quick rundown on the plumbing and a view of the stoma and appliance. The other two really were adverse to any view that they’d not be able to “un-see”!

There are people among us with strong gut reactions to anything not appearing normal, especially in the anatomical or medical categories. I went to medical school with the daughter of an obstetrician. This gal must have heard many wonderful birthing stories as she grew up and perhaps had glossed over the “blood and guts” aspects. She wanted to be a surgeon in the worst way, but her vaso-Vagal response to seeing blood, smelling bowel contents, or touching innards, caused her to faint every time! She became a psychiatrist, instead.

I can completely understand the negative impact on the psyche of a person who is happy with their birthday suit just the way God made it, then surgically perforating it with a new red waste conveying protuberance covered by a tailored plastic baggy. 

Now, I applaud those ostomates who’ve chosen to reveal their newly crafted stomas and appliances for the world to see. It seems that most just want to be accepted as normal and not be judged. Some are excited to seem even “better than average” as they proudly peel their shirts revealing their glistening stoma after running an “Iron Man” competition.

You might think that I’m one of those extroverts due to the fact that I’ve “come out” as an ostomate in these blogs… I’m not really a private person. In my profession as a Urologist, I often reveal my cancer surgical history and the fact that I’m wearing an appliance under my “doctor clothes”, as an expression of empathy and connectedness, that is, to the human race.

What better place to find acceptance than an on-line ostomy club-like “StomaCloak ostomy support group” on Facebook!

And while some reveal their new anatomy in a heroic way, some prefer CONCEALMENT! (StomaCloak)

By Dr. Joseph Salisz, MD A urologist with an ostomy

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