Growing Up with a Stoma

For many people a stoma only happens later in life. But if you had a medical reason for having an ostomy surgery while you were young then life has been a little different.  It can be hard growing up with a medical condition of any kind because kids and especially high schoolers are simply brutal.  I am not saying that it is impossible to have a normal life, but just saying it could be a little more complicated.  Locker rooms can be a little bit harder and friends can actually be the answer to many problems.  But really I want to go over some misconceptions of growing up with a stoma and going over how most people with an ostomy really live normal lives.  I mean it, they actually live the same lives as those around them with only a few extra things to think about on a daily basis.

First of all I should give you a little background about myself.  I ended up with a stoma right around my 10th birthday.  I also grew up in the midwest part of the United States.  This means that I grew up in one of the most competitive sports locations in the world. Luckily, my genetics allowed me to have a fast and agile, sports oriented body.  Having a stoma was not really an option nor an excuse to not play basketball or football in my location.  Honestly, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It is most likely a bonus to grow up with a stoma, because my abdominal muscles have been strong ever since.  I have literally worked on my ab strength since I was very young and it has allowed me to adapt much faster than I think people do when they get an ostomy later in life. 

So what is it like to play basketball with a stoma.  Well I would say it was a bit complicated at first.  Gear was simply not as good back then and it was hard to run around with a floppy bag.  I went through lots of belts and under armour shirts in order to keep my bag from moving so much.  But as I got older technology simply got better.  Seals became better and bags were created with easy belt access.  I ended up really enjoying smaller bags, with the ability to put an elastic belt through the exterior of it and strat it to my body.  This eliminated movement and allowed perfect seals.  Smells were a think of the past but lets face it I still smelled pretty bad with all the sweat going on.  That was also a great innovation was clothing.

Ostomy bags really stuck out when sweat was stuck to it and my shirt.  So the advancement of moister wicking t-shirts and super breathable materials in the last decade has been a wonderful thing. Clothing has gone far beyond under armour skin tight shirts and now it allows my body to breath and sweat to not stick to my bag.  It allows me to honestly play basketball with no one knowing that I have a stoma.

So I want to let people know that you can be very active with a stoma and even play competitive sports. In fact as long as your doctor says its ok I would suggest doing it.  It was a great confidence builder for me and allowed me to get a strong group of friends who accepted me for me.

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