GALENTINES: How have the women in your life helped you with your ostomy?

GALENTINES: How have the women in your life helped you with your ostomy?

Never mind waiting for a man to buy you flowers (thank you Miley for the reminder!) Galentine’s Day is an excuse to show love and gratitude to those in your life that have helped you through the hard times and celebrated you through the good. I am extremely blessed to have wonderful friends and family around me, and I count myself very lucky in the past year through one of the most difficult yet that I have had that support network around me and my little man.

A group image of the 2022 Pelican/Respond Healthcare "Get Together"

Making friends & memories

When having ostomy surgery I was already following accounts as a parent of a baby with an ostomy. I watched from the background, feeling like an imposter because it wasn’t myself with the stoma.

Little did I know some of those would become friends and within a few years we would have met up and spent time together making memories. These people have a special place in my heart and they know who they are. People that you can send a photo of your stoma looking angry and sad too are keepers. The people that listen to your voice notes and take the time to reply and alleviate any anxieties are keepers.

Discussions are taking place for the next ostomy meet up that myself and @ru.talks.ibd first organised last year in Birmingham, for all those connected by life with an ostomy. This could be through having it themselves, a friend, family member, or someone they care for. Open to all, in a safe place to feel seen with no judgement, with ears and a shoulder to be there. Having those connections made recovery so much easier than ever thought.

Friends through having a child with a chronic illness

When you have a child with a chronic illness and you have the same care team from birth a special bond is made. The same stoma nurse has been with us since little man was born. She keeps threatening to retire for 7 years but no sign yet (touch wood!). Erica has been in our lives for so long and seen me at my most vulnerable during every hospital admission, when our little man was slipping away, and when he came back to life. She has seen me at my best and at my worst. Not many people can say that. But it is those relationships where you build trust in someone to the point where you can be that vulnerable that is truly special. The day she retires will be a very sad one. I have had sleepless nights over it. I will always be grateful she was there on that first dreadful day, and I hope she knows how grateful I will always be.

Two women in athletic clothing walking in a lush, green park, chatting

Family isn't defined by blood

Family is not defined by blood. They are not just the people you are raised with. My little man has many aunties that are not technically blood, but treat him as if they are and that is something to be grateful for. From the friends that baby sit for me to go for a run when I need to for my mental health, to those that check in on how he is when he has operations and appointments. For those that text just because, for no reason but to connect because they care. Now that’s love.

One lesson I have learned is that people come and go in your life whether you want that or not. Not many will be around for it all. They will come into your life to provide a lesson and make memories with. Some relationships may hurt you. Some may change you for life. Some may feel like you wish they never happened but on reflection provided you with a lesson that changes your perspective for the good.

What I cherish are those women that, following surgery and not fully understanding what an ostomy was, took the time to listen, learn, and make me feel like it was the most normal thing in the world.

You don’t just need a day to show your female friends how much you love them. You have 365 days to do that.

Treating that special friend

Treating that special friend with some of the following could be done to show you care:

A neutral image with white and pink lit candles in the foreground and a blurred image of a woman receiving a back massage in the background


  • Make up a pamper basket with face masks, body lotion, an eye mask, hand cream and nail varnish.
  • Take them out to their favourite coffee shop and have coffee and cake together and catch up.
  • If your friend has kids, offer to watch them so they can have a shower in peace or pop out for some time to themselves.
  • Pick up their favourite coffee order on the way to see them and a magazine to read when they have some down time.
  • Find some oldie but goldie photos of you both from good times had.
  • Host a movie night of a film of their choosing and get in their favourite snacks.
  • Check in and ask if there is anything you can do to help them. Pick up something, help with some chores, entertain the little ones, anything that will take the pressure off. It’s the little things that make the most difference.
  • Do they have a sweet tooth? Make them their favourite treat, homemade from the heart really is the best. It doesn’t have to look shop bought. The time and effort put in will make it shine.
  • Make a list of all the places you both said you would like to visit one day and make plans for it to happen. How many times do we say we should do something or go somewhere for it not to happen? Pick one and find a date you are both free and do it.
  • Make a reel of memories old and new. We spend so much time on social media, why not use that time to create something special for your friend to relive your best memories?

Whatever you do this Galentine’s Day be sure to tell those lucky friends of yours how much you love and cherish them. Everyday is a gift. Never forget.

Until next time, Rach x

Disclaimer: As always, this post is from our blogger, Rachel's, experience of living with an ostomy & Hirschsprung's Disease & from what she has researched. Nothing in our blog posts should be taken as medical advice. It's always best to consult a medical professional if you have queries or concerns.


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