In Patrick Mott's article (" 'Ostomates' Coping with a Taboo Topic," Aug. 20), nurse Jenny Oberschlake is quoted as saying that for some the post-ostomy surgery period is ". . . hell. All of a sudden they have no control." I want to point out that for others, the "hell" and "lack of control" came prior to ostomy surgery.
I underwent a conventional ileostomy on Dec. 18, 1978, after having lived with ulcerative colitis since March, 1974. By the time I had ostomy surgery I was ready for it, both physically and emotionally. I feel that there are four factors which contributed to my positive outlook.
First, I knew that ostomy surgery was a possibility even before the colitis was confirmed by lab tests. After examining me, my doctor offered his diagnosis, then a prognosis. "Surgery" and "wearing a bag" were the last things he mentioned. All through the 3 1/2 years I suffered with the disease, the doctor's final words nagged at the back of my mind. By Thanksgiving, 1978, I knew that I'd had enough. Wearing a bag had to be infinitely better than the life I was living.
Second, when I finally entered the hospital on Dec. 11--exactly one week before surgery--I was given an ileostomy bag and belt to wear around my waist so I could get used to the feel of having a bag on my side. So all that week, through the blood transfusions, the myriad of tests, the apprehensions and doubts, I wore the bag. And it helped. There was no sense of shock at first sight when I woke up after surgery. Also, I had two pre-surgery visitors, both ileostomates, who came as part of the Ostomy Assn. of Los Angeles (OALA) visitor program. The two women were able to answer many of the questions I had about life as an ostomate.