by Lauren Henderson
It’s that festive time of year and ironically the 5th December marks my five-year stomaversary. Five whole years of having a stoma. I wonder how many people in that time have looked at me and knew I had a stoma? I wonder how many have walked past me and thought ‘Ugh, that girl is disgusting!’? I am guessing the answer to both above questions is none.
At Christmas time, I often think about the wonderful things that have happened to me since having a stoma. Last Friday, I was thrilled as I danced across my school playground where I teach to greet my snowflake covered tutor group while the deputy head was warning the students to be sensible during the heavy snow…oops. I was thrilled when that day did indeed turn out to be a snow day and I got to spend the time with my two beautiful children.
Teddy is 7-years-old and I fell pregnant with him in the first year of my illness. Bella is 3-years-old and I was pregnant with her shortly after my stoma surgery. I am very blessed to have such wonderful children.
Our snow weekend was fun-filled and magical. We visited Santa and to our humour, there was a fake snow machine – really? We built rather pathetic snowmen and sledged until the bruises on my legs and bottom screamed ‘no more!’ I spent one afternoon during that weekend’s snow invasion sledging with my son but the magical moment came when we crunched home through the snow and it was dark. We stared at all the Christmas lights as they lit up all the beautiful houses of our village. Eventually, we stopped off at our local and a hot chocolate was definitely in order, obviously a splash of Baileys landed in Mommy’s hot chocolate but I wasn’t complaining. We sipped and giggled at whipped cream moustaches while in the background was the quiet soundtrack of Christmas carols.
Just over five years ago I could barely walk down the road without going home and sobbing with the pain and exhaustion. Just over five years ago my son was at Nanny’s house just so Mommy could sleep, sleep again and sleep some more. Just over five years ago I dreamt of being healthy. Health is something I wish for upon rainbows, on birthday candles and Christmas turkey wish bones because health is not something any of us really have much control over. We can do our best to look after ourselves but fate can often deal us rough cards. Right now, I am healthy and I am happy, but happiness is not something I wish for ever; we create it from appreciating the hot chocolates, good days at work and cuddles from loved ones. Christmas for me is about saying ‘Thank you.’ My stoma has given me a life I couldn’t have even dreamt of before.
Have a fabulous Christmas and cherish those little things that make life so sparkly – they are often free and never, ever in my opinion, hindered by my stoma…my stoma gave them back to me.