I’m no fashionista, but I like to look good – who doesn’t?
One of my biggest fears before my surgery was that I’d spend the rest of my life wandering around in sack-like clothes or simply become a nun.
I envisioned a future filled with sweat pants, baggy jumpers and shape-less dresses – looking like a washed-out celeb in a Pineapple tracksuit.
I also imagined a life without romance, I think I believed that I’d be better off living in a hovel somewhere than have my bowel taken away.
I’m ashamed to say that as a teen and a young woman vanity was the main reason I stubbornly refused the operation for years despite being in hideous amounts of pain.
Having the operation felt like giving up my youth – it didn’t matter that my young life so far had been marred by illness, and the operation promised me a new lease of life.
I was horrified of what it would do to my already shattered confidence and street-cred; basically as a teenager I simply couldn’t think of anything worse than having an ostomy bag.
I’d rather put up with the accidents, the blood and the constant toilet visits, than be thought of as a freak – well, more than people already thought a young girl who spent more time in a bathroom than the playground was.
I mean I wasn’t married, didn’t have kids, what would I tell people, what would they think?
The people they sent to talk to me where lovely, well and happy, but they were in their 50s and 60s and had grandchildren – I could’t relate to that.
Now I realise I needn’t have worried one bit: unless you know about it, or Winnie announces herself, you wouldn’t have a clue she was there.
It was only when I was in my mid 20s that the surgeons finally got a firm grip on me and this time I couldn’t and didn’t really want to get away/
Straight after my first surgery (well as soon as I had the energy) I went through my old clothes and packed anything that was really tight into a bag and shipped it off to a charity shop.
I needn’t have done, but I’m still glad I did.
Ironically having surgery did my wardrobe a lot of good: it made me grow up, and stop wearing outfits that honestly should have been left back in my student drinking days, or really never have seen the light of day at all.
I get a lot of questions about what I wear, and how to dress with an ostomy.
My answer: wear whatever you want, what looks good, but most of all what you feel the most confident in.
You don’t want to wear something where you are constantly patting your bag, checking it, worrying that someone can see it – but you don’t want to feel like you’re wearing a smock either.
I’ve been pleasantly shocked at the array of things I can still wear. To be honest I can wear anything: I simply choose not to wear some things.
For example; I wouldn’t wear a crop top or a dress with gaps in that show my bag – I could, and good on anyone who does, I just don’t feel comfortable doing that.
I love maxi dresses and in total contrast short skirts, but I wouldn’t wear a skin tight body con dress, mostly because if my bag expands it’s too uncomfortable.
I also wouldn’t really wear something too sheer or that clingy gold material, mostly because you can see the shape of my bag through it.
On the days I feel weird from my bag (yes I do have days when I feel really self conscious about it) I distract attention from my stomach (not that anyone can see) with loud makeup, big hair and well, fabulous shoes – not that I need an excuse.
I usually have a little scarf in my handbag for if my bag fills up and I want to hide it – it’s a little handy tip I got from another blogger.
But really I can wear, and do wear, whatever I want: suits; jump suits; short dresses; pencil skits; ball gowns; see through blouses… and even shorts!
I do struggle to find a decent pair of jeans, but that’s because I need high-waist, a petite and a six, which is a hard combination to go by – if you are looking I find Next is the place to go.
I tailor what I wear to how I feel, what I’ve eaten (sometimes) and sometimes avoid eating certain things if I know I’m going to be wearing that tight dress.
I love the glamour – but some days I like my sweat pants, or PJs and baggy jumpers.
But that’s because I’m human, not because I have an ostomy.