As an educator, I feel it is imperative to share with others the beauty of having technology in the lives of those with chronic illness. I am fortunate within my profession to have the opportunities to inform others about the benefits of having health interventions such as ostomies, feeding tubes, PICC lines, Hickman catheters, port-a-caths, and the many other assistive devices.
In the courses I teach, I always make an effort to devote time to sharing with future teacher candidates at Nipissing University what life is like with a chronic gastrointestinal illness, specifically from a student perspective. As most of you know, this year I am not working and I am very happy to say I was still offered the opportunity to share with future educators.
Whenever I share about the research and resources I have found over the course of my studies, I never begin by stating that I am one of the students who experienced and remains to have a chronic illness while trying to pursue my goals. I begin by asking if anyone knows what a stoma or an ostomy is. Usually, there is only a hand or two that shyly rises and in some cases no one knows. I am never surprised by this as these presentations are usually with an audience of 80-100 people because I find comfort in knowing that by the time I am finished everyone in the room will know what an ostomy is. I present research and what we know about life with a chronic illness. I share case studies, resources, and strategies to advocate for the most inclusive school setting possible.
I share my story at the end of the presentation. I choose to do this because I want the students to know, you really can’t tell who has a chronic illness and how invisible these illnesses can be. When teaching I always have my line, Hope covered up and of course my ileostomy, Oscar is too. Once I reveal that I too have an ileostomy and port-a-cath, the majority of the students eyes widen in disbelief. I explain to the students the reason I share it at the end is because most people don’t expect to hear me say that I too am one with a chronic illness and having a chronic illness isn’t something you can point out. I know once share that I have Oscar, everyone is wondering what, where, and how? I lighten the mood by sharing what Oscar has brought to my life but also the realities of the situation and my limitations. But most important I share that I too, have aspirations and desires despite living with DIGITS. My physical illness is in no way a reflection of who I am and what I hope to do.
There are some very real realities of living with DIGITS but the medical
interventions in my life do not define who I am.
Needless to say, mine has been ordered! I will definitely be adding a pic once I
I don’t know about you but where my ostomy is, I’m lovin’!
"This is where my ostomy is"
"This is where my ostomy would be"
THANK-YOU JESSICA for educating the world about ostomies!