On 5th December, as the Christmas festivities are kicking off, I celebrate my stoma anniversary. Last year marked five years of having a stoma. Christmas often brings reflection, and I find myself thinking back on all the great things that have happened to me since my stoma. In the half a decade that has passed, I’m pretty confident that nobody has ever looked at me and guessed I had a stoma or thought I was disgusting because of it.
One day last December, I arrived at the school where I teach to find my class covered in snowflakes. While I danced across the playground to greet them, the deputy head was warning them to be sensible – oops! We were sent home due to the snow that day, and I was thrilled to spend the day with my two beautiful children.
My son, Teddy, is seven years old and my daughter, Bella, is three. I had Teddy during the first years of my illness, and I became pregnant with Bella shortly after my stoma surgery. I am blessed to have such wonderful children.
After school closed, we were left with a long weekend to enjoy the snow. I took the children to visit Santa, we built snowmen and sledged until my legs and bottom were bruised. After an afternoon of playing in the snow, Teddy and I trudged towards home. With the houses lit by Christmas lights and blanketed with snow, the village looked amazing. We stopped at our local pub for a hot chocolate, with a splash of Baileys in mine, of course. Christmas carols played quietly in the background while we laughed at our whipped cream moustaches. It was magical.
When Teddy was a baby, he would be sent to his nanny’s house while I slept because I was so exhausted by my illness. I could barely walk down the street without being in agony. I would sob at the pain and I was constantly exhausted. Back then, I dreamt about being healthy. We can try to take care of ourselves, but when fate steps in, our health can be snatched out of our control. Whenever I get the chance to make a wish, on a birthday candle, rainbow or turkey wishbone, I always wish for health.
My stoma allowed me to get my health back, and now I lead a healthy, happy life. I don’t ever wish for happiness, because I believe that happiness comes from appreciating the little things. If we enjoy the good days at work, the hot chocolates and the cuddles from loved ones, we create our own happiness. For me, Christmas is about being thankful for those things. Cherish the small things that make life so sparkly. My stoma has never stopped me experiencing those things. Actually, it brought them back to me.