Friday, April 23, 2010

My freak flag (by Suzie)

Mama's got a brand-new bag.

As a new ostomate, I have learned ways to protect and hide my urostomy bag, or pee pouch, as one friend dubbed it. It can feel like a little hot-water bottle, warming my crotch. At first, however, it felt more like male genitalia, flopping against my body when I walked, and when I sat, the tap might pop up like a little penis. Fascinated, I kept touching it.

“Welcome to our world!” said male friends.

When I release the urine, even if I squeeze out the last drops, there often are some more last drops. Why don’t men use toilet paper when they pee?

“Appliance” is the technical term for the plastic disk and bag glued to the abdomen. My nurse suggested sticking Press’n Seal over it if I worried about getting it wet in the shower. My skin didn’t react well, and so, the plastic wrap moved to a kitchen drawer, next to the Saran Wrap, which I had also bought for a non-food use.

My nurse suggested tying a terry-cloth baby bib under it to absorb the sweat from skin next to plastic. She showed me a calico bag that I could sew to slip over the plastic bag, like a slipcover for my appliance, or a toaster cover. Female ostomates also can buy silky pouch covers for “times of intimacy.”

A veteran ostomate told me to get big white undies and pull them up over the appliance to keep it from swinging like a big … bag. The underwear also makes the bag less noticeable under clothing. Even better, for people who can afford them, are underwear from Ostomysecrets, which have a marsupial-like pouch sewn into big undies.

This is all well and good, but I’m hardly keeping my urostomy a secret. I whip out the bag if anyone shows the least bit of curiosity. I want clothes redesigned to let the pouch hang on the outside. Gorgeous fabrics could cover it, like yet another accessory. Fashionistas would say, "OMG, did you see her Gucci bag?!" Knockoffs would be sold on street corners next to large hospitals.

Let my freak flag fly!
Notes on the linked music: The first line links to Joss Stone's update of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" by James Brown. The last links to Laura Love’s “Freak Flag,” which I love. I'm pointing this out in case you had passed up my linky goodness.