So according to Cincinnati District 3 police I am ‘gruesome’, ‘disgusting’ and have been sentenced to a fate worse than death.
If you are a young person with an ostomy or colostomy bag it seems you’re unattractive, disgusting and won’t be able to get any girl or fit guy to go near you with a ten foot barge pole. You will be pointed at, laughed at, and be seen by the world as one big joke, whose life and partying days are over now that you have lost one of your vital organs and are having to spend the rest of your life wearing a bag of poo on the outside of your body.
Ok, before you all start throwing things, lighting torches and chasing me down the high street, these are not my words but the words of a very naive police force in the USA who have decided to use colostomy bags as ‘scare-tactics’ for teenagers to stop them playing with guns and well, basically, to attract coverage from the world media.
According to said police force, having a colostomy or ostomy bag is comparable to being paralysed. And, as if they couldn’t be anymore offensive to the millions of brave people who live everyday with an ostomy or colostomy, it almost sounds like this police force are saying that it would be better to die if you are unfortunate enough to be shot than to live the rest of your life with a bag.
The new programme, which will be rolled out amongst troublesome teens, gangs and young offenders in Cincinnati (USA), will see the at risk teenage boys shown ‘gruesome’ pictures of gun shot survivors with ostomy bags, to show them exactly how unattractive they will be if they are still alive after being shot.
In fact in a television interview Lt. Joe Richardson of Cincinnati District 3 police said this horrific statement, which made me want to throw my shoe at my new laptop and grab him by the collar and shake him for the shear stupidity and naivety of his pig-headed narrow-minded point of view:
“You’re not killed, but you’re walking around with a colostomy bag and that’s just not the way to get a girl’s attention by limping down Warsaw Avenue with a colostomy bag,” said Richardson.
To say this is the wrong sort of message to be putting into the world about ostomy and colostomy bags would be an understatement. It would also be a massive understatement to say that I was offended by what Lt. Richardson has quoted to the world media. As a young woman with an ostomy bag I feel revolted, disgusted and quite frankly betrayed by this police force, who have decided to turn our life-saving bags into a device of torture, revulsion and torment.
Of course I understand what they are trying to do…they are trying to make these troubled teens change their lifestyles before they end up dead, and they think that showing them pictures of young men who are just like them with ostomy bags will change their ways. They think that these kids will be revolted and disgusted by what they see. And perhaps they will, perhaps they will think twice, perhaps they will decide to get out while they can and avoid destroying one of their major organs by not getting shot and having to have their bowel removed.
But what about all those people, like me, like many of the brave people I have met online, who live everyday with an ileostomy or colostomy. What sort of message is this police force, through this campaign, giving to the world about us? We are brave people who have been through major illnesses; Crohns, Colitis, Cancer; or who have been in horrific accidents, and yes, some of us might even have been shot. But you know what? We have come out of the end of these horrific experiences alive and kicking, and that is mostly down to the life-saving operation and to our new friend – our bag!
To say that we are gruesome, revolting and that we won’t be able to find girlfriends or boyfriends because of having this essential thing, which, by the way if we didn’t wear we could be dead, is disgusting. Whoever came up with this campaign really didn’t think. They were so set on trying to get a message out there, to tackle a problem, to attract media coverage for their ‘amazing’ new programme, that they didn’t think about the consequences of their words and what they could do to all the young people who already struggle to live with their ostomy bags.
What about the teenage boys who are living in that state who have ostomy or colostomy bags, how are they meant to feel about this? As a 20-something-year-old living in the UK I find it hard enough some days to feel confident with my ostomy, to feel sexy, womanly and attractive. But imagine waking up one day as a teenage boy in a society where everyone judges on looks to find that your police force has branded you as an ‘untouchable’…and told your college, school, friends, teachers and all the gun-waving criminals that you are a freak and that you may as well be dead.
Do you think they will get girlfriends now? Do you think they will be able to enjoy the normal life that their bag has been allowing them to live, free from constant toilet visits, pain or even hospitalization? The answer is of course not…
It is taking a long time to change the general public’s opinion of colostomys and ostomys and articles like this make it even harder. Here, instead of talking about the bravery, the battles and the success stories they are painting these brave teenagers and kids who have had major organs removed as freaks and untouchables.
I for one will be writing a strongly worded email to both the police department and the television network to express my anger and disgust about this campaign and their lack of sensitivity towards a huge section of society.