You develop a strong stomach. I promise.

I am the kind of person who gets weak at the sight of blood, and nauseous thinking about broken bones, or anything to do with eye balls. I remember the feeling that I had approaching my surgery date, not so much nervous for the actual procedure but for the recovery. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t be able to handle looking at my stoma, that I would throw up, faint and land in the mess I made.

There came a point that I shook my shoulders to rid the anxiety. I met with the stoma nurse and pharmacist on the Friday before my surgery, June 23.

I remember the stoma nurse taking out all the bits and pieces required for living with an ostomy. My mouth dried and my stomach churned. She explained the two part ostomy bag is preferred because you can remove the bag without removing the flange. You can read more about the assistive devices I use here (post to come). 

She asked me to lift my shirt so she could mark where the stoma would protrude. I suddenly felt nauseous, reality hitting me. My father lives like this and he cursed almost every day because of it, especially when he started out. She calmed me and my swoon stopped.

She tapped my belly and listened carefully, then asked me to sit and lean forward to determine the best place based on my belly roll. She complimented the quality of my skin: soft, dry, and, to be frank, plump. She said I had the perfect belly roll. I remember telling her how proud I was, gaining weight for this surgery, and was flattered that my body was suitable for this procedure (my feeble attempt at taking control and seeking positives, of course). She covered the marking with some tegaderm so it wouldn’t wash away in the next coming days before surgery.

I realize this is honestly the only photo of my “normal” belly. Perhaps that’s a bit ridiculous to think as many poets say scars are beautiful: the reminders of perseverance. Today, approximately 3 months post-op, I am slowly coming to terms with that: Saving your life is beautiful.

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