Day 20. 51 pages, 24,312 words.
When I first got my cancer diagnosis and was told I would be getting a colostomy – and more so when I learned it would be permanent – I was pretty devastated. But then, it’s amazing what a person will do – and not even a particularly tough person, honestly, although I have been praised and complimented by my friends and family and everyone likes to be told they’re strong – if the alternative is dying. It’s what they call a no-brainer. I had a wife and a baby daughter and I basically had too much shit to do, dying wasn’t part of the plan.
I don’t think there was ever a point at which I wanted to just give up and lie down and stop breathing, although some of those final chemo sessions were rough and I had my moments of bleakness and despair. I think I was too busy feeling awful, and worrying that I was going to die whether I wanted to or not, to actually consciously think about giving up (or, conversely, not giving up – it just wasn’t a ‘thinking’ type deal). If I ever have to go through it all again I might just give up before I even start, but I guess we’ll play that one by ear.
The aftermath, the feeling that I had changed, the mood swings and the lash-outs and all the crap Mrs. Hatboy had to put up with – that all happened. The feeling that even though I’d lived, cancer had somehow won because it had made me into somebody I didn’t like, that was there. But that had always been there and blaming what had happened to me for it was a convenient cop-out. Maybe it made things worse, or maybe it was just emergent behaviour anyway. Who cares? We all act like pricks sometimes, and I’m not always the cheerful, joke-around guy my online persona is. Heck, sometimes even that one slips.
But I lived.
Now, three years and change later, although there are days when I hate it, and days when I get inattentive with it and suffer the consequences, all in all it’s just another bodily function that people don’t really talk about. And generally, I’m fine with that. My friends and family talk about it openly and regularly, but that’s because I have awesome friends and family and they like to joke, as I do. But is it really important – except where it affects day-to-day things – to know about it? ‘Most everybody poops.
 Things like going to the sauna no longer being a spontaneous act, and running water being way more important than it was before, and travel – even just a day-trip – requiring a bit more planning. Things like when we’re out in the city and I say I need to find a toilet, this is not just one of those things where I can hold it until we get to a place that might have one. This is one of those things where the point of the entire day has now become “find a toilet for Hatboy”. I’m not going to hold it. It’s going to come off, and you’re going to hold it.
The good people at Uncover Ostomy think it’s important. They’re still trying to spread awareness and positive information, and that’s what this blog post is about. They want to know, what do we ostomates do to spread the word? How can we get people thinking about this really-pretty-simple part of our lives, and talking openly about how we got here and what it can do to us?
Well, as you should all know, I wrote a book. That’s what I did.
If you haven’t read it, why haven’t you read it?
That’s really pretty simple. Right from the start, I shared every gory little detail with my friends and family, and they supported me and asked questions and made jokes, and basically carried me through from beginning to end. And that’s what’s in the book.
If you want to know what other people should do to spread ostomy awareness, I guess it depends on the individual. If you want to know what I would do, that’s easy. I’d just tell everyone everything, because I don’t have very good polite-company filters.
Are there things that are too personal, and belong just to me and Mrs. Hatboy and Wump (and, now, also dear little Toop)? Sure.
Does “Hatboy craps in a bag” belong in that category? No, I’m afraid not.
Wump, summer 2014.
My firstborn has already completely normalised this fact of life. She was playing at magic the other day: “And when I wave this magic sword, your arms will turn into skeletons, and your feet will turn into skeletons, and your torso will turn into skeletons, and your buttocks will turn into skeletons, and your bag will turn into a skeleton.”
It’s just a fact. Nothing to freak out about.