Eating out for someone with a stoma can be a stressful or anxious time on it’s own; couple this with going out with someone who either doesn’t know about your stoma or even what one is! I mean until I was sat in a room hearing about surgery at 14 I had no idea what one was, and even then it was only because I was the person the stoma was being considered for! Then we have the current situation where there is the fear of; are you going to be questioned for just using the toilet as we weren’t allowed to just enter the restaurant! Roll on the 17th I can say!
I went out for tea with my lovely friend and neighbour Shannon the other week paid by my rather generous husband 00Steve. He paid for us both in fact we both felt a bit like a celebrity or something! When we were working out what we were wearing (over whatsapp before someone calls the Covid police) I happened to mention my stoma and briefly explain what it was but I’m not sure I explained it very well because I think the feeling I got was embarrassment! Which I’ve never felt before and I really didn’t like it. Now she is the sweetest lass ever and I really like her and I know she wouldn’t be repulsed or disgusted in the slightest because over the last year we have known each other she has gotten to know me without the stoma; as she didn’t know it existed - honestly goes to show people don’t know it’s there!
I have noticed I have a ton of insecurities of late and my stoma is not in the centre of them but it is certainly in the mix. With that in mind I wanted to wear something you wouldn’t notice as much and wouldn’t make me feel frumpy. Then I had the horror of I hadn’t looked at the menu before I booked the table and even though I’ve eaten there before menu’s change. I am one of those people that food can affect them in quite nasty ways. For instance I love potatoes but potatoes don't love me, and onions well! Those little blighters are out to make my intestine burst from a blockage; in fact I have been hospitalised a few times for not noticing one in my food. I also knew we would be having a gin so we could feel all fancy and lemonade with it being carbonated could quickly have my bag fill up with air. I also have been suffering leaks at inopportune times and I had to weigh up whether it was worth just changing before and risking it or taking supplies with me.
In the end I decided to:
- Wear high waisted shorts with a shirt and blazer - I felt good and the shorts have proven before to hide the bag filling up.
- Change my bag before I went out and not take supplies
- Stick with something I’ve eaten before - we went to an Italian so I felt pretty comfortable ordering a pizza
- Enjoy myself and enjoy the gin! Thinking back I shouldn’t have had the straw as I believe (I may be wrong now thinking about it) that a straw increases air intake!
- To only go to the toilet if absolutely necessary!
It was my first night out out since September where I went to the same restaurant with 4 of my friends for one of their birthdays but there was a set menu as it was Teesside Food Week and I had looked at it beforehand so I was a bit more relaxed. I have also been friends with those ladies for a few years and one of them is a doctor! *Actually that is a lie! I managed to go out out for 00Steve’s birthday last year it was the day before lockdown 2.0!* So I didn’t have the same issues mentally with them and really I shouldn’t have done with Shannon as it didn’t seem to bother her in the slightest. As far as I can tell it had been even longer for Shannon as she moved into our area not knowing anyone, heavily pregnant and during a blooming pandemic!
We had a really nice evening just chatting away from our kids and talking about absolutely everything and anything. I hadn’t felt that relaxed eating out with someone I haven’t known that long. We didn’t have to worry about our kids as they were being looked after, I didn’t have to worry about my stoma in the end and to be honest the only real issue I had was trying to get the QR code menu to pop up and stay popped up on my phone! That was certainly a new experience for me! Well that and we couldn’t have been sat further away from the bloody heaters and we ended up stiff from the cold by the time we were getting up off the metal chairs!
It really goes to show that it doesn’t matter how long you have had your stoma outside influences can really affect how you view yourself and your stoma. I am looking forward to the world “opening” up again and I can get back into the swing of meeting up with my friends for the morning school drop off coffee, or the spontaneous let’s go for food flights of fancy. I seriously miss being able to just go *do* things with my friends and family although the pandemic has been more on my thoughts than my stoma which has been a nice change!
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