Hmm, living without a colon. Where should I start? I was fortunate that my FAP was diagnosed the summer I turned 15. Unfortunately that was too late to save my colon since I already had thousands of polyps. My total colectomy was back in 1989 so that before laparoscopic colectomies. Instead I had an open colectomy with a nice 8 inch scar as a souvenir. Not the kind of thing you want when you’re 15 and just starting high school. Taking showers after gym class was so not happening because I didn’t want to see the stares or whispers. It’s hard enough to have FAP but when you need such a major surgery while you’re still a young teen that makes it even harder.

Even now at 40, with a permanent ileostomy, I still occasionally have some self-conscious moments. My ileostomy saved my life when I was 28 and I don’t regret it but it does make life interesting sometimes. I just love being in a meeting or even on the bus and suddenly my stoma decides that it’s the perfect time to let out a loud gurgle and blurping noise. I usually blame it on my poor stomach complaining that it really wants food and that usually works.

Dating is also a bit more complicated now. You always wonder when to mention it. Do you just casually bring it up at the movies? “Hey, I have this pouch on my belly and I can poop without even leaving my seat!” I tend to use a bit of humor when I tell a date about my ostomy. To me it’s not a big deal anymore, it’s just another part of me. I’ve learned that a sense of humor and some self-confidence can make a big difference when I explain my revised plumbing or my battle scars. Not everyone can handle dating someone with both FAP and an ostomy but I don’t let that upset me anymore.

We’ve gone through a lot being colon-less and all that has made us stronger. We each have our battle scars and we shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed of them. It took me a while to learn that but that’s probably one of the most important things this journey has taught me.