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There’s help ... and then, there’s help

Today, I am feeling amazed at the dramatic lifestyle changes required to cope with this type of drastic but often lifesaving surgery.

The long recovery time is surprising — I am still not healed, and in the past I could always bounce back quickly from things. At least there are products available out there to help people transition, and knowledgeable folks to give advice. I spoke to one woman who told me that her mother had this surgery years ago and there were no products developed and no one to help — she was given a roll of tape and a pat on the back with a “good luck” thrown in as she left the hospital. I don’t have to work hard to imagine how terrible that was for her; if someone had done that to me I probably would have wanted to shoot somebody.

It is true, even today, that the surgeons who perform these complicated surgeries are somewhat cavalier about life afterward. They tend to wave their arms about and say things like “ oh, everything will be fine — you won’t have any problems,” and then refer you to a special group of nurses for you to depend on, and who are wonderful but too busy because there aren’t enough of them.

I have also started receiving lots of literature on all of this written, of course, to help. Did you know that Oct. 6 was World Ostomy Day? Me neither. Whoop-de-doo. That is almost as exciting as Columbus Day.

I can’t imagine how you celebrate that.

I also received special cards in the mail that I am supposed to show to the TSA people at airport security, because apparently I am now a security risk and can’t just go through the scanner. Oh no, I have to go off into a back room and be checked to be sure I’m not carrying explosives.

What? Really?

This is not a joke, I am told. As if people with this type of surgery haven’t had enough problems, they now are being treated like possible terrorists? Have I missed all the news stories about gray haired people with bombs and weapons concealed in ostomy equipment? Good grief! What next?

I admit I am feeling slightly discriminated against and rather irritable about what I would have to go through now if I want to fly somewhere. Maybe I should call AARP and see if there is a grassroots campaign to end this type of discrimination or at least get some reverse discrimination going. Too snarky? OK — maybe I’ll just give up flying and drive everywhere; or maybe if I have to fly I can just take my good friend “margarita” with me, and then I might not even remember going through security, or care.

The latest arrival in the mail is a booklet that tells me that once I am healed, I can ride my bicycle 100 miles or climb Mount Kilamanjaro. Isn’t that reassuring? The problem is, I don’t want to do those things. I don’t want to play football or roller skate across the United States.

I want to be able to go to the grocery store or out to eat and not have a problem; or go through airport security without holding up the line and being embarrassed. Who writes this stuff anyway? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t anyone who has ever had to go through this sort of lifestyle transition.

Oh well, at least I didn’t just get a roll of tape and a pat on the back (and a bill for $500 for the tape). 

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