This, the age of communication provides us with the everyday opportunities to connect with our community of humanity, globally. We exchange our thoughts and messages beyond boundaries faster and farther than our ancestors before us.
From the far reaches of our World, we journey out through the global web to touch and be touched with our expressions and interactions. We communicate our conscious ideas with the intent someone(s), somewhere, will read and interpret our messages in ways that are significant to them.
Since Percy’s creation in 2011, I have made the commitment to support ostomy awareness for the benefit of people currently affected, and to those who may be affected by bowel disease in the future. Regardless of age, gender or race, there are legions of people the world over with bowel diseases, colorectal cancer and ostomates, who are intimately connected with family, caregivers/advocates and medical professionals. Oh by the way, Percy says he’s definitely along for the joy ride, too.
I believe no matter our condition in life, we all have the potential courage even when we are in pain or experiencing adversity, to create and live a full and joyous quality of life, in spite of it ALL.
I chose to create, “THE OSTOMY FACTOR” blog using the global communication web as a platform to share. My hope is to engage the passion and emotion in all of us to embrace our individual and collective power, no matter who we are, where we are, and no matter our life circumstances.
This week I received an email from an amazing woman who lives in Zimbabwe, Africa. She has a story to tell, and has graciously allowed me to share it with you. Although this is a fellow ostomates’ life story, it is a story for everyone. She inspires me, and in the spirit of connecting with our community of humanity for the purpose of touching and being touched, this is her story, in her own words.
I got sick at the age of 12, had stomach pains, constant diarrhea, was given wrong treatment which contributed to worsening my health, lost weight and was even at some point told that I had AIDS. I was always in and out of hospital, dropped out of school, was operated on at the age of 20 by one of the doctors who told me I had ulcerative colitis, and I wished I had gotten in contact with him years back.
I got my stoma, and at first it was a huge shock, I said to myself, “my life would never be better and normal again”. I had no idea what a stoma was, how to clean or how it would work. I did not have any idea at all. After the operation my health started getting better, started gaining weight, no pains, it was an amazing miracle, indeed.
2006 I was using plastic bags on my stoma, I didn’t know that there were ostomy appliances I could use. Then early 2007 I got in contact with ILCO Sweden, then they started sending ostomy appliances. I thought I was the only person in Zimbabwe who had an ostomy, but was amazed with the response I got from a newspaper article I wrote.
From the ostomy appliances I got from Sweden I started sharing them with other ostomy patients here in Zimbabwe. 2011 I had reached over 300 patients, had formed 6 support groups in 6 provinces. Got registered as an organization, and getting more appliances from Sweden, and other well wishing ostomy organizations and companies around the world.
Have since got assistance from Sweden also in training on ostomy, and use of appliances. Traveled to Sweden with my sister who is helping me. My family has been a huge pillar of support to me and the program.
Most of the ostomy patients have no information at all about what a stoma is and how to clean. We are the only organization in Zimbabwe that is operating assisting ostomates, and that has information on ostomy, some of the activities we do include:
- support groups
- trainings on ostomy care, to ostomates, caregivers, nurses, etc.
- information dissemination on ostomy
- psycho-social support
- spiritual support
- visits before and after operation in hospitals, at home and telephone
- income generating programs
Yes, we are still getting assistance from Sweden, they collect appliances from other ostomates in their country who do not need them anymore and have them in supply, from hospitals and other well wishers, and they send them to us. They have been very helpful and we are grateful for the support that they are giving us. Currently there are no companies producing the ostomy appliances locally.
Oh and I forgot to mention, my stoma is for life, and I got married in 2010, and gave birth to a healthy baby boy in 2011. My husband accepted me the way I am with my stoma, and all four of us, my husband, son, stoma and I, we are living a happy life. Life couldn’t be better than this.
Ileostomy and colostomy Zimbabwe Trust
ILCO ZIM TRUST
“Everyone you meet has a story to tell”