It has been four weeks now since the big op and I am beginning to get used to life with my ileostomy, it has been a bigger change than I thought. This is the second time that I have had a stoma, the first time was two years ago and then I went on to have a ‘reversal’ where I had a jpouch, when that failed, the decision was made for me to go back to have an ileostomy.
I really thought that as I have been through the shock of this surgery once already, that I would be better equipped to cope this time round. And in many ways I have, the knowledge of how to change my bags and care for my skin have meant that I have been able to dedicate my time to recovering from the operation rather than learning the technical side of life with a stoma. But it has still knocked my confidence.
I think it is the knowledge that this stoma is permanent, it is a bag for life. It was a necessary move but one that I wasn’t entirely happy with, and so I have had some negative feelings about my bag. I have felt self conscious, embarrassed and upset. I am trying to remember all the positive things to have a stoma, the health benefits, the lifestyle choices, but it is still a blow to be back with my bag and I have been struggling to come to terms with it.
Today I read about a Japanese art form called kintsukuroi, which means “to repair with gold”. When a ceramic pot or bowl breaks or cracks, it is put back together again using gold or silver to create something stronger and more beautiful than it was before.
It doesn’t hide or cover up the damage, it embraces the crack and acknowledges the history of the object whilst celebrating it’s imperfections and flaws. It is the art of understanding that the object is stronger and more beautiful because it has been broken.
What a gorgeous sentiment!
It got me thinking about my stoma and reminded me that how we see things comes from our attitude. I can choose to feel sad that my body is covered in scars, that it’s broken and damaged. Or I can think of myself like Kintsukoroi, I have been repaired with something precious and I am stronger and more beautiful for it.
I think I’ll choose the latter.