Having an ostomy means getting her life back

Living with an ostomy can be a challenging experience and often isolating.


Living with an ostomy can be a challenging experience and often isolating, but for Margie Jean, having an ostomy means getting her life back.

Until her urostomy surgery four and a half years ago, she suffered from chronic interstitial cystitis (IC), which was debilitating. IC is a condition that causes intense pain in the bladder and surrounding pelvic area.

In Margie’s case, the condition was severe, often requiring her to visit the washroom up to 60 times during the day and numerous times during the night. She was a prisoner to washroom facilities and in constant pain.

After urostomy surgery, her life is different.

“There were days when I thought I had accomplished a great deal if I could get a potato peeled for supper before the pain hit and I had to run to the washroom yet again,” says Margie. “Now, after urostomy surgery, I can go walking, swimming, travel to visit my children and do just about anything else that I want to.”

Urostomy surgery is complicated and involves removing the bladder, along with taking a six- to eight-inch piece of the small bowel and making it into a pipeline (conduit) for urine to flow out of the body.

The ureters (tubes that carry the urine from each kidney) are removed from the bladder and joined to the piece of the small bowel. One end of the small bowel is sewn closed and the other end is brought through an opening of the belly called a stoma. This is where urine now drains from the body into a pouch.

“For me it came down to a quality of life,” says Margie. “Before my ostomy I was in constant pain despite all attempts to ease or correct the condition. I knew the location of every washroom no matter where I went.

“I am so thankful for all the excellent care from my doctor, for the talented medical team that performed the surgery and for my wonderful husband and family who supported me throughout it all.”

Margie is an active member of the Comox Valley Ostomy Support Group.

“I can’t say enough good things about the ostomy support group. We come together as a group to share experiences, tips, stories, and basically laugh at some of the crazy predicaments we can find ourselves in with ostomies. The camaraderie and support is exceptional.”

The group has over 60 members and continues to expand membership as ostomates discover the group and join in. The group meets every other month and meetings usually feature a guest speaker followed by a coffee/tea social. Meetings are  informal and spouses and caregivers are welcome to attend.

The next meeting is May 27 at 7 p.m. at the Community Health Centre on England Ave in Courtenay.

For more information, visit www.northvancislandostomy.com or contact Betty at 250 871-4778 or Ken 250 339-3791 or Susan 250 339-6528.

— Comox Valley Ostomy Support Group

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