Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oh My Bag!

Being greeted with “Oh no, it’s her again!” - even if in sarcasm - isn’t the best way to start a trip to the blood lab. The clinic has become all too familiar, most notably the excessively long wait and the slight bell sound the clicker makes when the next person is being called to register. It’s just annoying, and seems to serve as a black hole, consuming both my day and my patience. An older man was standing next to me as I shifted from foot to foot endlessly, he sighed and asked if it was ever quicker. I smiled, and informed him - no.

The blood techs promised to pray before sticking me, and I half confessed/half whined that I had just come from yoga and hoped that may help - in what way, I have no sweet clue, but I felt the need to mention it. It only took two stabs and there was almost a little party in the booth when the two techs managed to get it (“We’ve struck gold!”). Right before I was all set to go, my ostomy gurgled and the tech asked if my stomach was grumbling. I laughed, and said “Sure”.

One thing down, one to go. As my massive supply of ostomy bags and accessories dwindles (and takes up a large chuck of the bathroom, much to my sister’s insistent complaining), I had to go and get some more things. My American insurance when I’m at school lets me just order the supplies online and they come - without a bill - and that’s that. My Canadian insurance, however, will pay 100% for the supplies, but this comes as a reimbursement and not as ‘free supplies up front.’ So fine, I thought (stupidly), and went off to the drug store. As I approached the home healthcare section, the woman looked at me as if I was lost, me in my yoga clothes traipsing towards a wall of large ostomy boxes. It was fun, I have to say, shopping for ostomy things in person, even having the chance to groan over the yucky hospital supplies they hand out and the nice ones that I prefer (ostomies are no different than clothing, some you love, some you’d never wear if someone paid you). This all seemed like fun and games until I spotted the price. A box of 20 mini bags - $125. I am a little decadent, I use small bags during the day since I find it easier to dress in, and big bags at night, but come to think of it, it’s poop and it seems only sanitary to change the bag frequently. They didn’t have some of my supplies - which means I’ll have to go back and grudgingly fork over my VISA again - but what I did buy was upwards of $250. Oh my word that’s expensive, it is insane and I still can’t believe it. We may be able to go into an ER for free in Canada, but we still need insurance to get our drugs and bags.

The biggest thing that bothered me - besides the dent in my banking account - was the fact that it was almost as if I was some mythical teenage ostomy patient who didn’t exist. It was set up for older people with ostomies, as if it’s impossible to be young, active, and have a life with an ostomy. The woman was half amazed and half stupefied when I pulled my leggings down just a touch to read the number on the bag to find it on the shelf. I wanted to say, “Hi, I’m Jennie, I have an ostomy and I’m not eighty, thanks.”

And as my day became an unexpected one to ponder IBD, my copy of “Tales From The Throne” arrived and I ripped open the package and marveled at the shiny book. I was so proud to hold it in my hands and to know that we as a generation have contributed it. Even though my own stories are included and I spent countless hours editing the book, I couldn’t help but sit and reread the stories, amazed before more and feeling connected to the world of IBD. Whoever said IBD was an invisible disease has clearly never seen any of us, with the scars lacing up our arms and our bellies, and for those like me with a quiet little bag hugging our fronts. I love my scars, my medical tattoos, proclaiming that not only I am here, but I’m alive.


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