Do You Stick Your Finger Up It? - Uncover Ostomy
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Do You Stick Your Finger Up It?

On the day I came back to my grade 8 class, post surgery, I stood in front of my peers and explained what an ostomy was. I was met with wide eyes from my classmates who were trying very hard to understand what I had gone through. Many had questions, most of which were common and easy to answer. The most uncommon question, which I was asked on that very day by a fellow classmate, and which remains to be my favorite question of all-time to this day, was the question of whether or not I had stuck my finger up the “hole” (known as the stoma- the end of  the intestine, folded over like a sock and sewn to my skin with an opening). I quickly replied to her question with a question of my own, asking her if she had ever stuck her own finger up her butt.

Since I can remember, I have seen my stoma as kind of like my surrogate behind. I have always been totally comfortable showing off my bag, (as you all know), but when it came to showing off my stoma, I have always felt very weird and vulnerable- almost naked. To me, it was like accidentally leaning over and showing off my underwear versus pulling down my pants to moon someone. Are the two comparable? I don’t really know, but that is just how I’ve always felt. I never wanted to show it to anyone.

It was not until I began unpacking my ostomy stupplies in our new apartment that I realized it was important that I actually show my boyfriend how my ostomy worked; that meant showing him my stoma. Giving an explanation is one thing, but as that grade 8 classmate had proven, context is often very very necessary. Understanding the importance, but still being extremely nervous to do so, I convinced myself that since we were living together, my boyfriend had to see it my stoma, simply for my own safety. What if something happened to me in our apartment? What if he needed to save my life? How could he save my life if he wasn’t fully aware of how my abnormal body functioned?

It made sense at the time.

So, after rationalizing the decision and mustering up some courage, I showed it to him.

A giggle, a long pause, and a thoughtful smile later, it was over.

And he still loved me.

Now, not only can I rest easy knowing that my boyfriend loves me no matter what, I can also be comforted in the fact that, in case of an emergency, my boyfriend now fully understands my abnormalities and can totally save my life if need be. Does he actually know any life saving techniques? I actually don’t know.

Does it matter?

No it does not.


PS; I have never stuck my finger up there.

Jessica Grossman
  • Mavreen David
    Posted at 04:01h, 21 May Reply

    Fantastic post Jessica!

    I had a temporary colostomy that was reversed when I was in the 11th grade. So many of my friends and family were curious to see it. Only my mother and grandmother every actually laid eyes on it, and only because I refused to touch it for the first week I had it. I had woken up from my resection surgery, horrified by my worst nightmare. In my refusal to deal, they kindly stepped in to care for me and my colostomy. In time, I grew comfortable with my colostomy and the quality of life it granted me.

    Once reversed, all I had left to show for it was a nasty scar which serves as a daily reminder to be grateful and mindful of my health.

    And for the record, I too never stuck my finger in it 😉

    • Jess
      Posted at 01:00h, 23 May Reply

      Thanks! Glad you’re healthy now!

  • Cristian
    Posted at 04:58h, 21 May Reply

    Ive been asked the same question! I havent stuck a finger in it… And don’t plan to. I have my reversal surgery in July, but will not do it before then…! On the other hand, I don’t mind showing people the stoma itself… I’ll show the bag, I’ll show the stoma, I just need to make sure I have some paper towels with me just in case!

    • Jess
      Posted at 01:00h, 23 May Reply

      I have never heard of anyone else who has been asked that question- crazy!

  • PaulO
    Posted at 06:17h, 21 May Reply

    Hell no, I will never stick my finger in there. But once my surgeon did. I was obstipated, and apparently a piece of brocoli was stuck before the stoma-opening. He put his finger in and ‘hooked’ the vegetable out. (I screamed my lungs out). After that, to be honest, I felt very releaved. I stay away from brocoli now …

    • Jess
      Posted at 01:01h, 23 May Reply

      Ouch, I never eat broccoli and most likely never will after hearing that haha

  • Megan
    Posted at 06:38h, 21 May Reply

    I haven’t stuck a finger in my stoma, but I did have to stick a cotton bud in it once to get out a small blockage, thankfully it didn’t hurt (well didn’t really feel anything) but I don’t look forward to the day someone other them me has to stick anything bigger then said bud in there.

    • Jess
      Posted at 01:01h, 23 May Reply

      I’ve never heard of going in there for a blockage. Is it safe?

  • Ieuan
    Posted at 07:30h, 21 May Reply

    Great Post, so glad your BF was cool with it, though in truth, why wouldn’t he be?

    I haven’t stuck anything up mine either, but I do kinda like stroking it through the bag…am I weird?!

    I must say though, I’m not shy at all about showing mine to anyone who’s interested, for me it’s part of helping me accept that it’s here to stay – I was 32 when I had an emergency ileostomy due to UC last September.

    I always think it’s funny how people think I will have some kind of funky ‘plug’ or some other shiny device there, it’s way simpler in reality.

    • Jess
      Posted at 01:02h, 23 May Reply

      Exactly my thoughts about my bf- if he wasn’t ok with it we wouldn’t be together!

      Glad you’re fine with showing off your stoma!

  • Sam
    Posted at 09:22h, 21 May Reply

    I was given a booklet in hospital….it said that under NO circumstances should the stoma be used as a (how shall i out it??) ‘sexual orifice’. I can’t say the thought would ever enter my mind…. :S

    • Jess
      Posted at 01:02h, 23 May Reply

      Haha I have heard that myself! I have also heard some horror stories of it being used that way. Disgusting!

  • Katie
    Posted at 14:19h, 21 May Reply

    Its funny you talk about this because I’ve had a different experience. The surgeons had to stick their finger in through the bag to see why my stoma wasn’t working and we often stick a catheter in and flush when I get a small obstruction near the stoma from scar tissue. I had my ileostomy re-done 2 extra times because of problems so I got so used to the poking around. I can imagine though, if I’d not gotten used to this while heavily medicated in the hospital, I might have a different reaction.

    • Jess
      Posted at 01:03h, 23 May Reply

      Oh wow, I’m sorry you had to go through that. I’ve only had a camera up there a few times for a modified colonoscopy! But then again, I’m asleep!

  • Chloe
    Posted at 16:51h, 21 May Reply

    why would a kid ask that??? ive never been asked that wierd a question, but i have been asked alot of other wierd questions! my favorite time telling someone was last Decemeber when i told one of my bffs Faith. her dad is in a wheelchair, so i thought she would understand what i had gone through. i told her my story, and then hestitantly asked if she had any questions. she quickly asked, “can i see ur scars?” i was flattered! i felt so important. i didnt mine showing it to anybody. in fact, i think its a way of helping them undestand it better. after i showed her she asked another question (my favorite questions were asked by Faith) she asked, “has anyone ever been mean to you about it?” i was surprised at her, because the answer was, “yea! you have!” and ill never forget it either. i doubt you want to hear the story, but it was a couple summers ago when our church went on a retreat to Celenus (idk where tht is). me, her, and our other friend Miriam were all in the pool. (this was before i knew to wear a skirt with my bathing suit.) wen we all rode up in the elevator, my towel fell off and they could see the buldge in my bething suit. faith said, (i will never ever forget this) “eww what is tht? are u turning into a man?” i was crushed. alot of people are surprised i forgave her, but i did because i knew she never would have said that if she knew what it really was.

  • Chloe
    Posted at 20:29h, 21 May Reply

    sorry for the typo, thats supposed to say she WOULDNT have said that if hse knew what it really was. lol.
    but Jess, i cant imagine telling my whole 8th grade class if i get into real school next year! (which i plan to). alot of my friends have told their whole class though. how did you get up the courage to do that? how did you tell them? i would like my classmates to know next year, but i dont know how to tell them so that they wont think im some gross freak. any advice?

    • Jess
      Posted at 01:04h, 23 May Reply

      The best thing to do when someone makes a comment about your ostomy is to make a joke about it and laugh! It’s a shame your friend did that, but by having a positive reaction to it, everyone around you will be positive about it too!

  • Cary Gossett MD
    Posted at 21:38h, 22 May Reply

    Though I have to check my dignity at the hospital doors each time I’m admitted as a patient, I’m still a bit uncomfortable showing my backside to the entire staff. My stoma, on the other hand, I have no problem revealing, as long as it’s clean. So, Jess, in my mind, I don’t think of mooning and stoma showing as the same. Of course, that perspective has taken me about 2 years to develop. Just this year I finally let go of the obsession to always hide my pouch in my own house, much less in public. So hats off to you for long having the courage and independence to be yourself, comfortable with what you can’t change, sounding out with strong self-esteem. I’m sure you feel relieved that you’ve revealed those great qualities with your boyfriend, as it was your true self you revealed: your stoma is only a small part of the sum that is you.


    • Jess
      Posted at 01:06h, 23 May Reply

      I’m glad you’ve finally let yourself feel comfortable with your pouch! I am very happy and relieved to have my amazing boyfriend, for sure!

  • Chloe
    Posted at 02:05h, 23 May Reply

    well great advice jess, but i still dont know how to tell them.

    • Jess
      Posted at 02:15h, 23 May Reply

      Just tell them exactly what it is- something that you needed to have in order to be healthy and that without it you would be in the hospital or be dead. Explain it in very easy to understand terms and say that you are very happy to have it. If people do not accept you because of it, they are not people you want to spend your time with anyways.

  • Chloe
    Posted at 16:30h, 23 May Reply

    ok, ill keep that in mind. thanks Jess!

  • Marcia Mullins
    Posted at 13:36h, 28 May Reply

    Jess, thank you for this blog. I’ve never found anything else like it.

    I’ve had a permanent ostomy since my surgery for colorectal cancer (it was rectal cancer) November 2011.

    No, I’ve not stuck my finger up it. Mine started out small and has been getting smaller (I’m told that is usually the case for the first six months or so) and, though it works perfectly well, I can’t imagine trying to even get my finger up it, much less wanting to!

    I had a choice of trying to save my original equipment (50% chance of success on that) or having a permanent ostomy. I was pretty sure the “patch job” would fail (a history of lots of problems there), so went for the permanent ostomy and I don’t regret it.

    In the hospital and a couple of weeks after that, I hated the messy pouch and even cut back on eating for a couple of days so there would be less mess.

    Then I discovered how to make pouch liners and having a clean pouch became a whole lot easier. Getting better quality equipment and learning how to have a good fit also made a huge difference.

    Being comfortable with my ostomy now leaves me free to speculate on such interesting questions as: If I were to moon someone in the traditionally way, considering the fact that the “cheeks” back there surgically closed, would it count?

    I’ve never flashed my stoma, or even the bag. My husband used to help me change the equipment while I was recovering from surgery, and I showed the pouch to my Mom, but my daughter is squeamish and doesn’t like to see any “ewwww” stuff., so she isn’t curious to see it.

    I love the colonders (calendars) on The Colon Club website. I’m not sure if anyone shows a stoma, or even a pouch, but all the pictures have individuals artfully revealing their surgical scars.

    I am careful to eat only stuff that won’t clog my stoma. I don’t want to end up having to get unclogged!

    I’ve heard that a lot of people have named their stoma. I have. Have you?

    • Jess
      Posted at 23:11h, 31 May Reply

      Welcome to the club!

      I’m glad you’re comfortable with it! I have actually not named my stoma. To me, it’s just like another body part, and I haven’t named any of those lol. However, that’s just me! Have you?

  • Toya
    Posted at 00:38h, 16 July Reply

    First off thank you Jess for the blog and Marcia for telling your story. Reading the comments above has made me feel more confident about when I get my stoma in Oct. Background story: found out I had stage 2 rectal cancer in Aug 2015, Jan 20th 2016 within 45 minutes into my surgery, my surgeon had to immediately close me up. There was hundreds of tumors in the lining of my stomach thus putting me in stage 4. I was told back in Aug that when I get the colostomy bag, I’ll have it for the rest of my life. I’m okay with that, I’ve been blessed to see my oldest graduated from high school this yr and I’m not giving up. I have cancer, cancer does not have me!! And I can’t wait to be part of the colon club & meet my new addition (my stoma).

  • Joseph Tomlinson
    Posted at 22:09h, 28 November Reply

    How can I stop stoma from leaking while changing the pouch on ile Ostomy?

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