Mountain View Medical Supply

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dear Ostomate, Just Have Fun!

Adapted from Ostomy Association of Metro Denver, Inc., Newsletter, July/August 2012
By Jim Folsom

I came down with a very nasty case of Ulcerative Colitis and this resulted in having my colon, rectum, and anus being removed.  My surgery was in January 2008 and I now have a permanent ileostomy. 

With only a few complications, my recovery went well but any chances of engaging in my over-45-mens-softball “social event” were gone for the following spring and summer.  So I got on my bicycle to get some exercise.  I was reluctant to get on that bicycle seat because my rear end was still in the healing process, but my fears proved to be unfounded.  The next spring eventually came, and along with it, softball season.  Similar to my concerns about returning to bicycling, I was hesitant to get back on the team.  Could I run the bases well?  Would I be too vulnerable standing at the plate?  Could I continually be bending over and fielding ground balls?  I knew I wasn’t going to be sliding head first into any of the bases.  With encouragement from my team, I decided to play.

My position was first base.  I played the first few games without incident.  But then came THE game.  The other team was to bat first which meant that we took the field and I took my position at first base.  The first batter hit a ground ball slightly to my right, I took a couple of steps, backhanded the ground ball then beat the runner to the bag.  The second batter was left handed which puts the first and second basemen on high alert.  And sure enough, he hit an extremely hard ground ball directly to me.  It took a bad bounce, bypassed my glove and hit me on the upper left thigh.  This was just inches from my ileostomy bag.  The ball traveled those few inches and hit the bottom part of my bag but not my stoma.  But I didn't know that at the time.  I fell to my knees in pain not really caring about the ball or the runner.  I reached for the collar of my t-shirt, pulled it away from my neck and looked inside.  It was full of...well you know what.  I looked at our team manager and told him he was playing first base.  I excused myself from the game and grabbed my equipment bag which also had all the necessary stuff for “accidents”.  I ended up discretely kneeling/hiding behind a large tree, stripped to the waist, wiped myself up and replaced the bag.  I fortunately wear a two-piece system.  By the time I put on a clean t-shirt and went back to the bench I discovered that I had missed only one inning.  The manager put me back in as catcher, a rather safe position to play on a “geezer league” slow pitch team.  Those on the team that didn’t know I was an ostomate surely learned something that day! 

I tell you my “softball” story for a couple of reasons. First, being an ostomate, having a stoma, wearing a bag might be cause for making some adjustments in your life but it doesn’t mean that you can no longer participate in activities you’ve always been accustomed to.  I still ride my bike.  I can still play softball.  I can still go skiing.  The list goes on.  Playing full contact football, or ultimate fighting (which I’ve never considered) might be the exception but I think you understand my point.  Second, people can be very understanding, patient and helpful in the event you have one of those untimely and messy “accidents”.  We tend to think other people will be disgusted that you wear a “crap sack”.  That’s not usually the case.  Everyone at the game was very understanding.  I cleaned myself up, got back in the game and moved on.  If we keep it in proper perspective and display a sense of humor about our condition, other people will too.  Being comfortable with who we now are goes a long way at putting other people at ease.

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