Seriously, They Don’t ‘Effing Matter.

Earlier this afternoon I was walking along Bay St., here in Toronto, after speaking to a group about Uncover Ostomy. I was wearing my “This is where my ostomy is” tshirt without a jacket, since it was a nice 18 degrees Celsius outside. As I walked past a small group of picketers, I got called over:

“Hey! What does your shirt say?” 

Obviously, I stopped to explain.

Two members of the group seemed quite interested in what I had to say, while another joined in mid-way through my explanation. This guy asked me if I been on TV because he had remembered seeing me. (Yes, I had been and you can click if you haven’t seen it yet). After I finished my explanation, I walked cheerily away, happy to know I had spread some more ostomy awareness.

Lo and behold, I received a message from the UO contact form a few hours later reading:

I spent 5 minutes explaining to this guy and a group of his comrades that I shit in a bag (and showed it to them), yet he still managed to check out my website and fill out the contact form just to hit on me.

(Don’t worry, I responded with a gracious reply, thanking him for checking out the website.)

I often get asked if I’ve ever had a problem dating with an ostomy. Have I been turned down because of it? Have I been broken up with because of it? Have I had a hard time finding a guy at all because of it? The honest answer is no.

Well… the real honest answer is that it took me 5 years after ostomy surgery to actually be able to date since beforehand, I weighed much more than I do now (thanks to steroids) and was extremely awkward and weird (thanks to being isolated in the hospital without social interaction for 2 years.)

But after 5 years of growing into my body and learning how to socialize, the ostomy never, ever, ever, got in the way of my dating life. Since those years, I’ve been asked out multiple times, dated around, and actually been in relationships with a solid number of guys. Having an ostomy had never once gotten in the way of forming relationships at all. In fact, I used to hope that it would be a filtering device to keep the jerks at bay… but apparently not.

Anyhow, I have had such luck in the dating scene with an ostomy that I began to wonder why. Over the years, I’ve just kind of figured it’s been because I’ve always been so positive about it. I still wondered, though, how no guy has ever cared about my bag.

So I decided to do an experiment.

A lovely girlfriend of mine, new to the Toronto dating scene, decided to sign up for the free online dating site, OKCupid. She showed me how it worked and how she was getting some dates here and there simply from having her profile online.

I’ve always thought online dating was silly, but I thought this was the perfect opportunity to test how my ostomy would be received online. So, I signed up using my real name as my username, (which is apparently frowned upon but I clearly didn’t care…), filled out my profile in a quick haste, and threw up some pictures.

I don’t think I could have tried less.

And I did it on purpose.

When asked why I was on the site, I answered that I was there “for the laughs.” When asked what the first thing people notice about me was, I said “I don’t know, ask them.” I also specified that guys should only message me if they had a degree and a professional career (lol) and when I was asked what the most private thing I was willing to admit was, I said “Everything. Nothing is private. Just Google me.”

I basically put up a wall saying “hello, I’m a bitch” but used my pictures to intice them to Google me to come across the ostomy.

And they did.

In between the ridiculous messages from guys trying to be funny (like this guy)…

…or antagonistic to win over my attention, (like this guy)…

…or just trying to spark up a conversation (like this guy)…

…I would get a ton of messages from guys saying that they had Googled me and thought that was I was doing was great!

Some said that they thought was I was doing was awesome, and then would ask for my number. Some would ask me more details about how I got my ostomy, and then ask for my number. Others simply sent a messages saying they had learned something new, hoping to spark up some conversation. I even had one guy remember me from an article in the Western Gazette some 2 years ago!

While I got messages from guys who had found out the ostomy and still wanted to explore something with me, there were a few guys who didn’t want to actually date me. However, it apparently was not for the bag, but for “irreconcilable differences,” (like this guy)

Despite having an extremely off-putting profile, guys still Googled me, and still asked me out.

Bag and all.

Now, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with my Masters degree if I didn’t point out the flaws in my study, which all academics must do. Unfortunately, there is one giant flaw.

What about the guys who Googled me and decided not to message me because they discovered the ostomy?

I wasn’t able to track how many guys viewed my profile, looked me up, and decided against contacting me because they had discovered my bag. Because of that, I was unable to calculate my conversation rate.

But you know what?

Who cares?

All those guys that didn’t message me on OKCupid are the same group of guys who I would never think twice to talk to in person.

And clearly, with proof from my experiment, there are enough guys out there who literally do not give a crap about the ostomy.

(badumbum)

I have since shut down my experiment because I am now in a new relationship with a wonderful guy. A guy who never thought twice about my bag, which he knew about before we even became a couple.

When I asked him why he was so accepting of it (obviously, because I had to know) he said it was not the attitude I have towards it, but the fact that I am confident in myself as a whole. He compared it to the same situation of women who are self-conscious about their weight. He said, if a woman is going to complain and feel badly about herself because of how much she weighs, a guy isn’t going to want to date her. But if the same woman embraces her weight and is comfortable with who she is, her body size doesn’t matter at all.

You hear that? An ostomy is just like anything else you might be self-conscious about; weight, height, hair colour, shoe size, breast or manboob size, anything.

An ostomy is just another thing on that list.

Another thing that you can choose to complain about, another thing to feel bad about, and another thing to get in the way of finding yourself a great boy or girl.

So, friends, the moral of this story is that we should all be comfortable in ourselves no matter what we think is wrong with us.

Because in the end, it doesn’t ‘effing matter.

Comments

  1. Well to be fair, you are extremely attractive. That might have something to do with the huge number of guys who wanted to date you. But good experiment.

    • Well, thank you, Sally.
      I do think that it may have had an impact on convincing them to Google me, but that was the point!

  2. Jess, you are gorgeous. some people with the bag are not as lucky as you in the looks department.

    • Megan, thank you!
      But I do believe that if I spoke badly and complained about my ostomy all the time that it would definitely negatively affect my dating life.

  3. Jess…

    Well lucky you about the dating situation. I have not been as successful. I mean a few people have been okay with my colostomy but I have had other people say they were not interested in dating someone that had one of those. I am usually very up front right away and tell women that I’m trying to date. Maybe Toronto people are different or maybe men are more open to it than women are, I don’t know. But just wanted to let you know not everyone has the same situation…. And I’m not that bad of a looking guy, not a model like you but okay….

    • Chase,

      I am glad that you are upfront about what you have. Are you confident in it’s life saving function, as well? Have you explained that without it you may not be alive? Are you proud of it? Just because you’re upfront about it, doesn’t mean your portraying a positive attitude about it!

      If you are, well then you have saved yourself a lot of time by weeding the women who are not good enough to be with you!

      • Hey Jess,

        Yeah I’m good with it. I mean I know it will never be reversed. I didn’t have Crohn’s like probably many that you talk to. I was in a bad accident that broke my pelvis which severed the colon and muscles in my body. I mean it saved my life so I’m thrilled about that but the colostomy I’m fine with. I’m glad I weeded those few horrible girls out of my life really early but it still isn’t easy to hear that you are not wanted because of something you can’t change. Oh well I’m glad you are here being an example for everyone, but you are hotter than most people out there so I understand why your situation is different. I mean I would definitely be asking you out much like everyone else out there. Well thanks for getting back. Best wishes, God Bless.

        • It hurts when people tell you they can’t date you because you’re too short, too tall, too fat, too small…

          There are so many things people can’t change that others uses as excuses for reasons why not to date them. This is just another one ;)

  4. catherine says:

    I hate my bag….it,has totally wrecked me….i would do anything to be rid of it…no matter how hard I try..i just cant get my head around it all. I try to stay cheerful but inside it eats away at me…..how can I get over

    • Oh Catherine, you are not alone with that ! I am not happy with mine and have spent many days in tears hating it and what the illness has done to my body. If you would like maybe we could talk and share how it makes us both feel, I am feeling a bit more positive about it now as it is here forever I will have to just get on with it. i joined a small group of young ladies with Ostomy bags in my area but found they didn’t understand at all as they all seemed so positive about theirs ! Happy to talk with you, we can help each other through it. I am on FB Samantha Gurling look me up xx

    • Hey Catherine,

      I am so sorry to hear that.

      I hope that you will read some more of my blog posts and participate in the Facebook page (http://facebook.com/uncoverostomy) and talk to those, like me, who are happy with their bags. It may help!

      If you’re looking to get over it, all I can say is that you need to start /telling yourself/ that you are happy with it. The more you reaffirm the fact that the surgery saved your life (or at least gave you a life back that you were missing because of disease) the more you will begin to believe it!

      Hope those tips help!

  5. Bill O'Donnell says:

    Any man in his right mind would “hit on you” – you are VERY pretty. As you know ostomies are very hard on the old body image, and if someone is maybe only marginally attractive in our shallow beauty oriented society, they might not have your luck.

    HOPEFULLY, by the time a normal dating relationship developed to the “look at my naked tummy” stage, it should be based on real values that should transcend the superficial. I doubt an ostomy would ever stand in the way of love or real romance, but if it stops a cheap hook-up, then you are probably better off for it. (Does that make any sense???)

    Bill

    PS – I really admire your bravery and wish I was 1/10th as brave!

    • Thank you very much, Bill!

      As I mentioned in the article, however, I haven’t always looked this way. It has negatively impacted my self-image, but over the years I’ve worked to get over it.

      And yes, what you said makes perfect sense!

      Thank you!

  6. Heather says:

    I completely agree Jess. I have never had an issue dating. I have even had my bag leak on a boyfriend… embarrassing! And he is still around after 5 years.

    I’ve had my ostomy since grade 8 (now in my late 20′s) and can say honestly that I am more conscious of my height than I am about my bag.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Tamara says:

    This gave me lols. ESPECIALLY the half Asian comment.

  8. Kristen says:

    I always wondered if maybe I was just lucky to have found my (amazing) boyfriend before I had an ostomy. We had already been together for a few years, he loved me, and he was just glad that I wasn’t curled up in a ball, crying in pain anymore… that I was regaining weight, and getting healthier.

    I remember in the hospital, for some reason I just didn’t want to look at my ostomy. I didn’t want to know what I looked like with it. I’m a nurse. I kept telling myself to get over it, but for some reason I just couldn’t get myself to look. Crazy, right? When the WOC nurse came to teach me ostomy care, and I started tearing up, my boyfriend… who is the most squeamish, anti-ick guy I know stepped up and said “Teach me first.” He learned it all. He completely amazed me, and seeing how at ease he was with the whole thing, and how it didn’t change how much he cared about me one bit, it gave me the confidence to snap back to reality, LOOK at my ostomy, and embrace it. :)

    • That was amazingly sweet and supportive of your boyfriend. I had a hard time looking at first too. It is sort of weird, and it does take adjustment. But even though I don’t have my Ostomy any more (at least for now) it really changed my perspective on physical things and confidence. Anyway…. Just wanted to say your story was encouraging :)

  9. I think if anyone would say they have a problem with an ostomy they probably just aren’t into you and are using that as the excuse. I didn’t have my ostomy when I met my girlfriend, but I had the scars and she knew the whole deal about a month into dating me. She knew there was always a chance that I would have an ostomy again and was there with me when that finally happened. She has been wonderful about it and has learned to change the appliance just in case I should ever find myself in a situation where I am unable to. My health still isn’t 100%, but she has been there with me through it all. Most days I am more worried that my bad mood will drive her away as I try to get back to my healthy self. With anything you must love yourself before you can hope to find someone to love you, and that person must also love the you that you love.

  10. I met my fiance just before I was diagnosed with UC, the ostomy came along 2 years later, he still loves me, fancies me and plans on spending the rest of his life with me. I was pleasantly suprised how much the illness and now a bag does not worry him in the least, actually if anything it is me who has trouble accepting it still !

  11. Andreja says:

    I always had a lot of admirers despite my Crohn’s, although I didn’t have ostomy. When I first met my husband I had the worse flare up in my life. And I told him about Crohn’s on a second date. He was really positive about everything. About two years ago I had urgent colostomy surgery. Six months after surgery he asked me to marry him. On May 26th we’ll celebrate our 1st anniversary.

  12. As previous responders have noted, it doesn’t hurt that you are (highly) attractive. Accepting the bag has a LOT to do with it too…if you are comfortable with it, it helps a lot. Being in good shape has a lot to do with it as well…

    Me? I have a hernia around my stoma so it protrudes more than a bit…that doesn’t help things in my case. Of course, I also have a face made for radio and am about 10 pounds of grouchy in a 5 pound sack.

    Having said that…confidence is the first key….the second key is realizing that some people are just assholes. And not the good kind that you keep on your side and do nice things like save your life…the bad kind that say horrible, hurtful things and cause bad feelings….or even worse, try to say NICE things, and fail utterly by failing to live up to it.

    I have a decent amount of confidence in my pouch (almost no leaks since I’ve had it and it causes me almost no trouble. I have enough problems…tsuris like that, I don’t need.), but the rest of me not so much.

    And that’s what it boils down to: being happy in your skin (and plastic). Knowing that you probably don’t have a chance with all the people you’re interested in? Well, that was going to happen anyhow- and not always because of the bag

    Find someone who accepts you. Find someone who interests you. Find someone who has interests you don’t- you never know what might be cool that you don’t do now. Find someone who gives you that…Feeling. The one that tells you this person is someone you can stand who can stand you.

    At least that’s what I do.

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