The other day, I saw a comment on one of my posts saying “I love your positivity about everything despite all you’ve been through,” and I’m often asked how I stay so positive. It made me think and reflect on my attitude over the last five years since my ostomy surgery. Sure, the early days were a bit rocky, but I think that’s probably true in 99% of all ostomates’ first 3-6 months.
The moment that it all turned around for me was when I realised that I was finally pain-free, gaining weight and feeling a hell of a lot better than I had been for the three years leading up to the surgery. Despite the incurable disease and the inevitable learning curve (managing two problematic stomas, the leaks, the sore skin, the open midline incision wound), these transformed from being the most traumatic experiences in my life to just something I dealt with. When I switched to a better bag and better ostomy necessaries (they’re not optional accessories to me; I need them), the leaks stopped, my skin got better and it all got even easier to deal with. It was actually a downhill battle for me; things naturally got easier with time.
That being said, there are still ups and downs. Luckily for me, almost all days are ups, but it doesn’t mean that I never feel frustrated or annoyed or upset; my aforementioned problematic stomas have often been the target of some very stern words. But for the most part, I am able to see the positive side of a not-so-perfect situation.
I posted a quote on Twitter the other day:
It’s applicable to many things, but I wanted to use it here as a way to respond to the question, ‘how do you stay positive?’
One definition I found of the word ‘positive’ is:
It’s not just about seeing the glass half full. It’s not about smiling and saying happy things. It’s about making changes, developing, adapting.
The Crohn’s disease won’t cure itself. My stomas aren’t going away any time soon. I won’t wake up tomorrow and realise it’s all been a crazy dream. It’s all here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. Is there any point in moaning about it? No. It’s not going to change anything, other than make myself miserable and annoy everyone around me. When my bag used to leak, I didn’t just moan about it and then carry on using the same bag. I switched to a different bag, and tried using mouldable rings. I changed what I was doing to make the situation better and unsurprisingly I felt better as a by-product.
I’m not saying that I don’t ever have bad days, I’m saying that I try to learn from them, adapt, make changes and move on.
I choose to take the umbrella.