the north face softshell A fundraising ‘Stroll’ in the park
KINGSTON Despite the negative stigma surrounding the use of an ostomy bag, Meghan Hole wishes she had gotten hers named Barb sooner.
“It has completely changed myself. I wish I’d done it sooner,” said the 26 year old.
Hole organized the second annual Stoma Stroll at Lake Ontario Park on Saturday. The general surgery nurse estimated that the local walk raised about $2,000 for the Ostomy Canada Society.
An ostomy is a surgical opening in the bowel to release waste. Hole has an ileostomy to release stool. The ileostomy was essential for her to deal with her Crohn’s disease, but she explained people get ostomies for a variety of reasons such as colitis, cancer or any sort of inflammatory bowel disease.
After getting her ileostomy two years ago, Hole organized the first Stoma Stroll, which mostly featured her family and friends. After that she started the Kingston Ostomy Support Group and the walk has grown as the group has. She started the support group because she couldn’t find her own.
“It is quite a difficult thing to live with when you’re learning the hacks of it, dealing with body image, it’s literally a bag hanging from you, so it’s a lot to deal with going home,” Hole said. “We’re been together now as a group for a year this month, and we’re trying to raise ostomy awareness and get the word out there.”
The toughest part is breaking the “poop bag” stigma, explained Hole.
“People don’t talk about poop,” Hole said. “We just want to raise awareness that so many have it, but you wouldn’t know.”
Hole was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was nine years old. Through her life she’s had numerous surgeries to deal with it, but two years ago it just got too much.
“I was so sick,” she said. “I couldn’t walk down the street without pooping my pants. Normal people don’t think about those things. They can hold it, I couldn’t. It was so hard being a nurse, having all these duties to do and you’re doing the best you can. I’d get a patient up to do somethings with them and I’d have to sit them back down to go to the washroom.”
After learning how to manage her ostomy, it became a huge relief.
“Everyone has bad days, but I wish I done it 10 years ago, I’m so healthy now,” Hole said. “I’m able to go for walks now. Before I wasn’t able to go for walks, because I needed to be near a bathroom. I know where every bathroom in Kingston is. But now I can do it.”