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5 Reasons Why Having An Ileostomy Is Awesome

Colostomy/Ileostomy is Awesome

Over the course of the 6 years that I’ve been living with a Colostomy/Ileostomy, I have heard one phrase over and over and over again: “I don’t know how you do that, I could never do it.” Occasionally, I’ve also heard: “I’d rather die than have to live with an Ostomy.”

The first one, is understandable… because who would think about living with one and be excited, or think ‘yeah I can totally do that?’ Of course it’s scary, and anyone would worry about it. But the truth is, you do it because you have to. It’s the hand you were dealt and it’s really just like accepting any other reality. However, the second one? “I’d rather die than have to live with an Ostomy.” That one blew my mind. Really? You’d rather die? DIE? Actually STOP living??

This confirms to me one very obvious truth: You obviously have NO IDEA what it’s actually like to live with an Ostomy, and that is the only reason why you could say something so outrageous. Well, to me it’s outrageous, because I live with an Ileostomy and most of the time, don’t even think twice about it. So today I’m here to highlight some benefits of living with an Ileostomy. If you’ve been around my blog for a while, then you’ve probably read my FAQ post about living with an Ileostomy, but if not – definitely take a second to check it out. It’s a great place to start: Life With An Ileostomy: Celebrating 6 Years!

Today I’d like to point out 5 Reasons Why Living With An Ileostomy is Awesome, and sometimes – downright hilarious:

1. I’m just going to start with the most obvious reason: I’m still alive AND I’m symptom free. I owe that to my Ileostomy and for that, I’ll always be grateful.

2. You know when you get “the runs” and you literally have to RUN to the bathroom in order prevent a very unpleasant accident? Or you’re preparing for a colonoscopy and having to spend the evening right next to the bathroom? That no longer exists for me. There is literally no urgency. I never have to race to make it to the toilet, I just empty when I need to empty. Just whenever I feel like moseying on over to the bathroom. Nice right? Especially for Crohnie’s who totally get the horror of constantly feeling the urgency. It goes away. For good. That’s awesome.

3. Have you ever accidentally farted at the most inopportune moment and wanted to just pass out from embarrassment? Well I have. Thank you Crohn’s Disease. But now, when my Ileostomy “farts” it doesn’t sound like a fart. And it doesn’t smell. So it can ‘let it rip’ however often it wants, and not only will you not smell anything, but you probably won’t even know what the noise was, much less who it came from. :o) Awesome.

4. How much time do you waste sitting on the toilet going #2? If you’re an IBD’er, then it’s probably a lot. With an Ileostomy, that goes away. All you do is sit and empty. It literally takes the same amount of time to empty, as it does to sit down and go pee. That is awesome.

5. Okay, so #5 and probably my favorite thing about living with an Ileostomy, is avoiding public toilets. Make sure you read all the way through this one, so you don’t leave with the impression that I don’t use public restrooms, because I do. You know when you absolutely have to go and it just can’t be avoided? Then you walk into the restroom and it’s DISGUSTING? I seriously hate that and I take issue with most public restrooms, it just grosses me out bad. So imagine how I felt when I was at Austin City Limits a couple years ago and had to use the Port A Potty? Horrifying. I stood in a line that forced me to acknowledge all the many, MANY people who would be sitting on that seat before me. GROSS! Then it occurred to me, I don’t actually have to sit. I can lean over and empty into the toilet with my clothes on, without ever sitting on the seat. How many of you can do that? Well with an Ileostomy, you could. :) Awesome.

By the time you’ve read all this, it might sound like an advertisement for an Ileostomy. I’m obviously not saying you should wear it as a fashion accessory, but I hope what I’ve shown you, is that not only is an Ileostomy a life saving device that can change your life for the better… but also that you can have some fun with it and appreciate other little benefits along the way. Hubbalicious and I have pet names and phrases we use when referring to mine, and inside jokes that bring us closer. Not only are we keeping a secret that most people don’t know about underneath my clothes… but it’s a symbol of all we’ve gone through. We’re proud of the life we live together and the trials we’ve overcome as a couple. My Ileostomy represents our strength and faith in each other and in our relationship.

I hope that if you’re faced with this particular scenario, that you’ll remember this post and realize that a Colostomy/Ileostomy is far from a death sentence. And that maybe, it’ll even make you happy.

Leah Sannar Blogger for Crohn's Disease

20 comments… add one
  • Anita July 14, 2014, 8:54 pm

    I’m proud of you Leah! You are an inspiration and thank you for sharing your story.

  • Mariela Miranda July 28, 2014, 3:44 pm

    You are awesome! What a great way to put it. I look up to you for you positivism and attitude.


  • Jenni October 15, 2014, 7:56 pm

    Thanks, this made me feel better.

    • Leah Sannar December 9, 2014, 6:17 pm

      Hi Jenni! I’m happy that this made you feel better. I know a lot of people who have struggled so much with their bag, and sometimes it’s nice to stop and think about the ways that it blesses us. :o)

  • Marlo November 22, 2014, 10:27 pm

    Hi Leah, I’m new to this ileostomy thing. I’ve had it for about 2-3 months.. I can’t seem to shake that feeling of not wanting to live the rest of my life with this damn bag. I’m thankful I’m alive, but I can’t seem to see thru the black cloud of having one. Did you ever go thru the same feelings? I love your 5 reasons that they’re awesome. And it did perk me up

    • Leah Sannar December 9, 2014, 5:59 pm

      Hi Marlo, I so appreciate your comment and willingness to be so honest. Having a bag is a big adjustment and sometimes I worry that I come across as though I never struggled with it – and that’s just not true. I definitely had some feelings about having to adjust to a bag. In my case though, honestly – I was just so thankful to be leaving the hospital and getting to return to my normal life. I would say that my worst feelings towards the bag occurred RIGHT after my surgery. While I was recovering, they sent a tech in to show me how to use it and empty it. Let’s just say the tech was… unprepared and uninformed. The way he was teaching me seemed like I would NEVER be able to master it and I had a huge panic attack. I was crying and begging my surgeon to reverse it. But then they sent in an Ostomy Nurse who actually knew what she was doing and I was so relieved, that I never really had bad feelings towards it again. There are, of course, times when I get frustrated with it – like when I have leaks, or when I want to be intimate and feel sexy – I do struggle, just like any other person. But overall, I really don’t think about it much and I am very grateful for it. I hope you’re able to see thru the dark clouds. It really is possible to just accept it and have a totally normal life. I hope you’ll contact me if you have any other questions. Good luck to you!

  • Randy February 9, 2015, 9:29 pm

    Thanks for the AWESOME blog! I AGREE! Having had my illiostomy surgery now just over two years ago, I am pretty ‘used’ to it. I would add to my list of awesome….having the ability to get in a car and actually leave town without mapping out EVERY restroom between my house and my destination.

    • Leah Sannar February 11, 2015, 12:59 pm

      That’s so true! Sometimes I forget to point out those benefits because by the time I had it that bad, I was already house or hospital bound. :( I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog, thanks so much for reading!

  • Alice July 25, 2015, 11:57 am

    I have had my ileostomy since 1998. I had a j-pouch for a short time, and am actually GLAD I had to have the ileostomy, as the j-pouch was a total nightmare for me. You are spot on with your 5 reasons. Number one being it has saved my life, too. As time goes on, it becomes more just a part of you, and no one has to know unless you tell them. Thanks for your upbeat take on things. People need to not fear the ostomy.
    Alice recently posted…The Daredevil Project: Man in the maskMy Profile

    • Leah Sannar July 26, 2015, 1:30 pm

      I totally agree Alice, I know how scared I was when I heard that I needed one. Mine was not really a choice, as it was pretty much my last option. I didn’t have a lot of time to research and learn, so it was really scary! I wish someone had come along and given me this list before I had my surgery, it would have saved me a lot of fear and anxiety!
      Leah Sannar recently posted…5 Tips for Stress Relief + Giveaway!!My Profile

  • Hi Leah! I popped over to see check out your blog after you stopped by mine. This story in your sidebar immediately caught my eye. I am a nurse by trade, although I have been staying home since my youngest was born, but I worked on a surgical floor, and took care of tons of patients who have gone through the same things you have. I think you are amazing, not only because you choose to embrace your ileostomy, but because sharing your story will help countless others who are where you have been. Kudos to you! XO

    • Leah Sannar August 5, 2015, 1:40 am

      Thank you so much Christy, I appreciate that! I have such a special place in my heart for nurses. I still keep in touch with my favorite and I seriously don’t think I could have made it through without her! So kudos to YOU! :) Nursing really is such an amazing profession. Thanks for stopping by, hope to hear from you again soon!

  • Christine Kim September 12, 2015, 7:25 pm

    I can’t thank you enough for contributing this “awesome” post on OstomyConnection. You are helping more people than you’ll ever know.

  • Starr December 21, 2016, 11:48 pm

    My name is Starr and I’ve had a ileostomy ever since I was 15 due to colon cancer. My mother had it and we found out I had it, her biological father passed away from it. So if course it’s hereditary.. I’m 23 now and married. Never thought I would be. When I first found out about the cancer I didn’t even want to know. I could of cared less. I had just lost my brother who was only 19 to a car accident.

    I had 22 surgeries and procedures inpatient and outpatient. Went from 165lbs down to 95lbs in no time. Now I’m healthy and done with surgeries. Had my last one 2 years ago as of this past October.

    When I was in high school a old friend of mine thought it was cool that I could be doing anything and be pooping and me not be able to tell it. Also like you said about public bathrooms and port-a-pottys we have bags so we don’t have to sit down we can empty them standing up. Which I find as a major plus lol.

  • Philip Ham August 5, 2017, 8:16 am

    What a great testimony for “life”. I’ve only had my ileostomy for 6 months, but those 6 months beat the previous 5 years hands down, no comparison. Life is too precious to spend it worrying about where the restroom is or whether I am going to mess my pants before I find one.

    • Leah Sannar September 20, 2017, 2:56 pm

      Aint that the truth. People always wonder how I manage to live with an ostomy, and I just think… “You have no idea where I’ve been! This is paradise!” :)

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