Friday, January 7, 2011

The Flash

In the past few weeks, I have unzipped my pants around a select group of people.

Let me back up.

I unzipped to flash my newest pseudo organ/accessory. When did I ever think I would be doing this? Oh right, never. People want to see the mysterious bag that has taken up space on my belly that just had it’s 21st week birthday. They marvel at the size of it and the invisibility, so to speak, when I zip back up my pants and you can’t see anything. As my Mom says, “You can’t even see it when you wear skimpy clothes” - which, for clarification, means yoga outfits and not, in fact, skimpy clothes (though you wouldn’t be able to see it anyway).

For a sort of a polite code, my sister and I have devised a strategy for communicating the fullness of the bag in public. She’ll lean over and ask about ‘the baby’, to which I reply either, ‘first trimester’, ‘kicking’, ‘full term’, or ‘needing to be born’. This makes her laugh, I pat the little bag baby and off I go to the bathroom to ‘give birth.’

Lots of people have questions about the ostomy, or simply have no idea how it actually functions. I like to explain the appearance of the stoma by a comparison to folding down the top of your socks, or sometimes a very vague reference to those little circular rubber pieces that can be snapped so that they fly off the table - but no one seems to get that reference. I explain the one-piece and two-piece systems, which admittedly sound like a bathing suit collection. I make light of the ostomy, sharing my middle-of-the-night trips to the laundry room to wash my soiled sheets, the inability of some insurance people to know that an ostomy is not a prescription, and on and on. It makes them laugh, it makes people comfortable, and it gets the point across.

When showing a cousin the bag, she held up her hands and said (frantically), “Don’t show me the intestine!!!” Of course, I didn’t snap off the bag to showcase my gurgling stoma, because a) I didn’t want to ‘go’ on my bedroom floor and b) everyone has their own comfort levels. It’s one thing to talk about IBD, and it’s another to want to see an intestine on someone’s abdomen.

I wasn’t always comfortable with having Crohn’s - that’s an understatement - for what felt like a very, very long time, I would was the absolute farthest thing from being comfortable with my IBD. Things change - the seasons, the years, your height, your medications, your organ count, and your outlook (to name a few). I am so comfortable with my IBD and my ‘baby’ now, and even prouder to say that I have them and I am who I am.


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