I believe, among other things, that this is a lesson in humility.
When the doctor first mentioned the possibility of an ostomy as part of an upcoming procedure my first reaction was one of embarrassment and shame. It sounded gross. What if it smelled? What would other people say? Why couldn’t it be anything else? The final decision has yet been made on whether an ostomy will even be necessary, or if it will be temporary or permanent, and yet my ego immediately projected all sorts of horrors even on the possibility. So, I had to question my reaction.
And then, gradually, it occurred to me that it could be something else and my thoughts drifted to this: “Where is my gratitude?”
“Why am I not thankful that with amazing medical procedures the doctors are saving my colon and possibly my life by doing this? Why am I not amazed that they can repair a badly damaged part of my body and bypass its usual functioning so that I can continue to live and breathe in this world?” I should be thankful if this allows me to continue this incredible journey. The first lesson was in gratitude. I am thankful.
If a colostomy bag becomes necessary, then I need to wear it like a badge, a reminder that certain things like human waste and death itself are equalizers. It doesn’t matter how many possessions or what positions of power one has in a world where those things are distributed unequally and unfairly. Like the children’s book reminds us, “everyone poops.” Everyone poops. Everyone dies. Everyone has the opportunity for growth in the best and worst of circumstances. Instead of choosing to wallow in self-pity or shame, it is a far better path to choose growth and understanding.
I am humbled by the potential daily reminder that we humans are a grimy, dirty species, both figuratively and literally, that so many things in our lives are waste–not only the food that we cannot process, but the opportunities we fail to take, the relationships we fail to develop out of fear or other strong emotions, the full potential we have in the short time we are here. If this reminds me to do better, then I will make every effort to do better. If the ostomy becomes necessary, then I will accept it and learn from it. If not, then I hope that I have still learned some lessons that I will not forget.