During the first lockdown I had a change of bowel habit, which was unusual for me, constant loose motions for weeks.
I contacted my GP who sent me for a colonoscopy, I was not thinking it could be anything than a bit of something and nothing.
It showed a polyp in the rectum that could not be removed during the procedure.
I was referred to St James’s Hospital for further investigation. I saw the surgeon who arranged for me to go in and have the polyp removed in January 2021.
Still, I thought no more of it and went home after day surgery. I was then told the polyp was cancer and they had caught it early (T2).
Forward on to August 2021, after radiotherapy I had an operation and am left with a stoma.
Macmillan Cancer Support describe a stoma as an opening that is made through the tummy (abdominal) wall. It connects the bowel to the surface of the tummy. The stoma is round or oval-shaped, and it looks pink and moist. It has no nerve supply, so it does not hurt. Having a stoma means poo (stools) will not pass out of the rectum and anus in the usual way. Instead, it will pass out of the stoma, into a disposable bag that is worn over the stoma.
It was hard to get my head around to start with, but finally I was able to venture out again, all prepared with Stoma supplies should the need arise.
But, what a revelation, wherever I went disabled toilets were not suitable to be able to do a change hygienically or confidently as there was nowhere to lay out my supplies. My confidence took a knock, and I broke down in tears.
To some people that might seem silly, but unless you are in that position it is hard to understand. So many facilities are not Stoma Friendly, we need to get these businesses etc understand the issues we face.
They can help by making sure their disabled facilities have a shelf, a long mirror, a hook or two and a suitable bin to dispose of soiled stoma bags (which are double wrapped in a disposal bag). Please see ColostomyUK.org/campaigns.
I have approached White Rose and after a meeting they are now on board and are currently working to make a couple of their disabled toilets Stoma Friendly. I also have a meeting with management at Trinity Shopping Centre, hopefully we will get them on board too.
Steven Foster, Centre Director at White Rose Shopping Centre, said:
“We’re always looking for ways to make White Rose more inclusive and accessible, and we welcome feedback from our guests on the best ways to do so. We’ve recently been working with centre visitors to improve our facilities for people with stomas and look forward to announcing our improvements and rolling them out across the centre soon.”
I am making a deputation to a full meeting of Leeds City Council later in July. Hopefully they will agree to make all their facilities Stoma Friendly.
I will keep plodding on campaigning for Stoma Friendly facilities for all Ostomates.
1 in 335 people have a stoma for many reasons and we need the right facilities to be able to make life a bit easier when we are whether we are at work or a leisure.
As a footnote please if you notice any kind of change in your bowel habits, bleeding even if you think it is nothing, please see your GP and get it checked!
This post was written by Lyn Morgan
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