Funny Ostomy Questions
Ostomies are strange things. I’ll admit when told I would be getting a urostomy, I had to immediately google what it was and I was dumbstruck. A piece of intestine hooked to my kidney? Sticking out of my stomach? A bag stuck to me to collect urine? The workings of an ostomy are fascinating.
I get my fair share of strange questions
Just by being someone with an ostomy, I get my fair share of strange inquiries. With a urostomy not being as well known, I get even funnier questions as folks confuse my ostomy with a colostomy or ileostomy. I take each interaction as a chance to laugh and teach someone a little more about urostomies and how they work. I think after such a long and quite serious year, we should all laugh together at some of my favorite questions regarding my ostomy.
Can you turn it off?
When I’ve had to duck away to empty my pouch or explain I need to pit stop on a road trip, more than once I have gotten the comment “Can’t you hold it or turn it off?” I just have to laugh and say, “I sure wish I could.” Those unfamiliar with ostomies don’t realize that no matter what type you have, there is no control over the output of your ostomy. I love telling people that I quite literally pee all day.
Why don’t you just put a Band-Aid on it?
Now this one really makes me giggle, especially because I get it so often. I guess people think my stoma is just a hole in my stomach that can be covered with a Band-Aid instead of my ostomy pouch. This would be cool, but definitely not how it works. I’ve shown some of my friends what stoma caps and mini pouches look like when I want discretion for a short period of time. For me, they’re more hassle than the convenience they can offer. But these accessories are a neat option for people who want a typical ostomy pouch out of the way (like when being intimate).
Can you still have sex?
Getting a question like this can be shocking initially, and at first, I didn’t know how to respond. Honestly, this isn’t something people ask in person. I share my cancer life online in public, and this is a message I’ve received often from well-intentioned and curious followers. Any pelvic surgery can impact the sexual function of men and women. In bladder removal especially, this can cause shortening of the vaginal canal and in some extreme situations, an inability to have vaginal sex. For men, it can cause nerve damage preventing an erection. But most of us ostomates can be intimate just like anyone else.
Do you still poop?
Call it confusion with how each type of ostomy functions or lack of anatomical knowledge. I’ve had people genuinely think I either don’t poop anymore or poop AND pee with my ostomy. Usually, it doesn’t take long for the person asking this to realize poop and pee are two different bodily functions using completely different organ systems. I do love sharing ostomates I know who are “double bagging it” and have an ostomy for each function.
Educating people about ostomies
Having an ostomy has definitely opened avenues for me to educate people not only on my urostomy, but also on my disease and why I have one. It has been fun fielding questions and sharing my story online to bring awareness to bladder cancer and the ostomy community.
How are you raising bladder cancer awareness this month?