18/11/2013 06:41 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Let's Talk

I'd like to start a conversation. Not an ordinary one about the weather, or what people think of Gravity - the consensus seems to be that it's great, by the way - but about bags. Not handbags, not plastic bags from grocers', or even the more ecologically sound paper ones that nobody uses. No, mine is a bag for life. And not the supermarket kind. What I have is an ileostomy bag. You may not have heard of that, but I'm pretty sure you know its more common sister, the colostomy bag.

It's the ostomy that's the thing - the bit of intestine that's surgically brought out of the surface of your tummy, through which poo escapes. Into a bag. Otherwise it would just go everywhere, and that wouldn't be nice. That would be about as disgusting as the myth of ostomies would imply.

The thing is, unless you have a bag, or know someone with a bag, you probably have some preconceived ideas; I know I did, before I had one, and I should have known better. I've had Crohn's Disease for most of my life, and I narrowly escaped having a bag two or three times over a 25 year period before the combination of 4 years in bed and various complications made me finally agree to have one. And not until then, did I do my research. Despite having known it was an inevitability for the best part of two decades. So I'm not judging, I'm just trying to use my experience to change things a little. To raise awareness of the disability that I have, and make it as unshocking as, say, seeing a wheelchair, or a prosthetic limb. I know it's not usual, not the way most people function, but it's also not disgusting or filthy or completely hilarious. It can be a bit hilarious, but that's our secret. It belongs to the underbelly of bagpeople, and until it's somewhat normalised, demystified, those jokes don't get to be shared. They're ours.

I'm not sure where to begin with preconceptions, so I'm going to start with Jennifer Aniston. She recently said, when asked about the possibility of a 'Friends' reunion, 'I think we're getting to the point where we'd be friends with wheelchairs and colostomy bags.' I expect she thought she was being witty; a bit of a wag. So much wrongness, Jen. And yet, nobody picked up on it as far as I could see, except for a few other people with bags. I'm leaving out the wheelchair issue for now; that's not my fight. But just her assumption that at a certain age, one is issued with a colostomy bag, is bizarre. Though if you get the wheelchair as well, it might be a deal worth considering.

The fact is, most old people don't have bags. How many old people do you know with one? Given that the accepted figure (as far as I can find) for people with bags is between 0.5 - 2 in every thousand, depending on what country you're looking at, that would leave a lot of old people out. Factor in that many people with bags are children and young adults, and you should start to realise the startling fact that bags aren't just for old people. That Jennifer Aniston - and don't let this spoil your opinion of her; she's not alone in this thought, she's just the famous person who was stupid enough to say it recently - has got it all wrong. I expect she'll be relieved, should anyone bother to tell her. Finding out she won't automatically get her digestive system replumbed in a major surgical procedure when she turns seventysomething, might just make her day.

Not hearing anybody make a stupid, ill-informed bag joke would certainly make mine.