Thursday, January 23, 2014

Body Image

Body image is a huge part of an ostomate's life. In fact, sadly I've had body image issues my whole life. Having Crohn's since I was 20 certainly didn't make them better. As a teenager, I never felt I was shapely enough. I thought I looked more like a boy than a girl. After being diagnosed with Crohn's, I would have to take Prednisone (steroids) quite often during flares/exacerbations and Prednisone would cause my appetite to be ravenous!

I remember one time I gained 30 lbs in one month on Prednisone! Now that is way too fast! I really couldn't control myself. Any food and every food was tempting....even if it was something that I previously claimed not to like! The really sad part is, with prednisone, I always got the moon face, which is a symptom that those taking a pretty high dosage will get. My face did indeed look puffy, and my already big eyes would protrude outward. The steroids made me feel better in my gut but I was often sad about how I looked. My looks were the cause of my depression on many days.

Whenever my doctor would tell me to start weaning down (lowering) my dosage, I almost always would begin to feel ill again. Sometimes I would even ignore the doctor's suggestions to wean down because I knew what would inevitably happen. So, I would prolong the process for as long as possible. After a while, I had to eventually take less pills because I would begin to run low and you can't wean down to 20mg/day (for instance) and then just stop without causing more harm than good to your body.

Once ill again with another flare, I would quickly lose the weight I gained. It seemed I was always on a weight roller coaster ride. I've been a size 0 and a size 10 and everywhere in between all within a three year time period. My family and friends would make little comments (nothing snide) that would let me know they noticed and were really concerned. There's absolutely nothing you can do when you have Crohn's but pray, take your meds, try to reduce/eliminate your stressful interactions and hope for the best. Trust me, I did all of those.

Now that I have an ileostomy, I admittedly still have body issues. I mean, hello somebody, a piece of my intestines (that are supposed to be neatly tucked away on the inside for no one to see) is stitched to the outside of my abdomen. It's not exactly the most beautiful thing. Plus, it wiggles, squirms, makes 'swooshy' noises when I eat, and quacks like a duck when I'm hungry. No kidding! My husband just laughs nervously when it does these things. He's still adjusting to all of this. But the one thing he realizes, and that I have to remind myself of sometimes, is that I'm still the same person. Really and truly, I'm better.

I don't have to know where every restroom is everywhere I go. I don't have to worry about taking a change of underwear in my pocketbook (although I exchanged it for a spare bag and wafer), and for the first time in my adult life, I can actually fit women's sized clothing *=D> applause. I'm happy about the weight gain because I believe it will stay with me this time. In fact, I can't wait until the summertime so I can wear this beauty!
My female ostomate buddies tell me of the success they've had with high waisted bikini separates so I'm going to give it a try! I still do have some mild body issues but I'm only 4 months post-op so they are expected. I had absolutely no vacation last summer due to being so sick. This summer will hopefully be much, much different.

No comments:

Post a Comment