Some years ago I was asked to attend an older person's health check by my local surgery. It involved a blood test and a meeting with my GP. He asked questions, reading from a computer screen. Everything went well until he asked, "How is your memory and have you fallen over recently?" Too good to miss! I replied, "I don't remember.
Like the other five million listeners to BBC Radio Four's "The Archers", I am gripped by the storyline which recently saw abused wife Helen stab her husband Rob Titchener... Once we learned that he'd survived, the next development was discovering that evil Rob had been given a stoma while he recovers from his life-saving bowel surgery.
I live with a colostomy. This means my colon has been diverted through an opening on the side of my abdomen so that bodily waste can pass into a stoma bag. My stoma is due to bowel cancer but many people undergo surgery for one due to Crohn's and Colitis, childbirth, injury and other conditions.
It took me years to come to terms with my stoma. At my lowest point I weighed only four stone, I had Clostridium Difficile and a blood clot. My marriage had gone past saving and I left my husband.
It was only a month ago that I was crouched over my bed in excruciating pain. After three more hospital visits, I was told I was experiencing gastroenteritis. I didn't believe anything they said anymore. I knew my body and I knew there was something wrong. Something serious. After one more visit to the doctors surgery, I was sent into hospital with suspected appendicitis. I was then admitted, and one week later.. I was coming around from emergency Ileostomy Surgery.
Although I felt different after the surgery, I'm surprised at how normal my body feels. I genuinely did think I'd notice I have such a large part of me missing. But I guess when you compare it to the rest of your body, it's really not that bad. And when you come to think of it, I don't think anything is really that bad. Not when you're alive.
There's a number of things that go through your head when you have an ostomy, some good, some bad... some you just never expected to have at all! I rounded up a few other ostomists to see which thoughts had most stood out to them since having an ostomy.
A teenage blogger has opened up in a powerful video about her life changing emergency surgery for an ileostomy bag, following
I made him leave the room when the nurses would come to change my bag, with my mum guarding the door until she'd finished. I made sure not to take my top off around him or expose my stomach. I was certain that in order to still be pretty to him i'd have to be fully clothed at all time.