From single to wed, with a few hiccups along the way
This was never my face when I first through about dating with an ostomy.
Although I wasn’t actually looking for love in the beginning, it’s something that played on my mind. My charming ex had wished me dead on the eve of my first surgery so my faith in the opposite sex was at an all-time low and in the beginning I couldn’t even look at myself let alone love myself, so how could I expect anyone else too. The fear that I would never find someone who could love me like this was real and being recently single with a stoma was the most daunting thing ever. My mother tried to keep me positive, even to the point of buying me a wedding dress and a cot, all with that best intentions but it all just reminded me of everything I thought I would never have the chance to have again.
An old friend
Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong as soon after my first surgery I caught up with an old friend who already knew my story. Long story short while in recovery mode in country Victoria we spent many hours on the phone and by the time I returned to Western Australia we were officially an item. He was supportive and stayed with me through the first two years of hell until we promptly broke up after my j-pouch failed and it fell into the too hard basket. This was by no means his fault although it was his decision, it was the best thing for us both and I knew it but this didn’t stop me from falling back into the pits of despair and who could ever love me again.
My sisters plus one
Lucky for me my sister’s work function that year was at the horse races and she needed a plus one. I hadn’t left the house in months and she wasn’t taking no for an answer. So I dragged my arse out of bed, frocked up and off to the races we went. I couldn’t drink and didn’t gamble all that much but it was nice to be out of PJ's and the confines of the house for the day. My sister and I have a habit of people watching and today was no exception as there were many interesting people to watch. One peaked her interest due to his amazingly tight ringlet curls, me finding a smidge of my old confidence then decided to walk right up to him and tell him they were awesome.
He was moderately to very drunk at this time as it was late in the day, so the best he could muster initially was “thanks”, he then promptly continued walking with his mates. Given I wasn’t looking his lack of interest didn’t faze me, and it didn’t last long as less than a minute later he turned back around walked straight up to me and said “you have nice hair too” followed by “can I have your number” and then “sorry I used all my good pick-up lines on the other girls”. I still wasn’t feeling it so I may have deliberately got a number or two wrong when giving him my digits, which fortunate for me my sister corrected before he left to catch up with his also very intoxicated mates.
I needed arm candy
He didn’t even make it home that night before he called me and asked us all to come to a party at his mate’s house. I was still quite sick at this stage so partying on was not on the cards, all my spoons had been used just going to the races so we said no and I didn’t expect to hear from him again. However, it was a matter of days before he send me a text asking me out on a date to which I thanked him for his interest and told him I wasn’t in the right place to date anyone currently. Instead of writing me off and deleting my number he texted me back asking me to keep his number in case something changes in the future.
Something did happen and I was in need of date to the governor’s ball, something I had already RSVP’ed too with my ex. I had no other suitors and didn’t feel like entering the world of online dating at this stage so I thought what the hell, what’s the worst he can say, ‘no’? So I texted him one sentence. ‘Do you look good in a suit’ to which he replied ‘I make great arm candy’. A week later we were dressed to the nines learning about each other on the way to what turned out to be the most boring event either of us had even been too. It wasn’t a ball but a gathering of accountants and executives listening to the governor talk over canapés and champagne.
We bailed two hours in and found a coffee house so we could actually talk and get to know each other. The more we talked the less suited we seemed, we were total opposites, he despised my job (I am an accountant but the least typical accountant you could find) and I thought he was a geek, so friends it was. He knew I wasn’t well but nothing of the extent of what was going on in my life so we shared a few texts here and there and he invited me to a games night with his friends. He was so much more relaxed when around his friends and they were all seemed like genuine people and our friendship grew.
For the love of Stargate
One night while he was out at a dress up party we were texting and I got to asking what he went as, he told me a Wraith, now I don’t know if you know what that is (Stargate geek here) but right then I decided that he may be worth breaking down a wall or two for. Conveniently it was now close to new years and he had previously invited me to his mate’s NYE party, given my limited spoons I had said no but at that point decided that rocking up just before midnight to see if he could kiss before introducing him to Squish my stoma along with the myriad of other issues was a good idea. He was shocked and pleased to see me when my sister and I arrived at five to midnight.
The clock struck twelve and lucky for both of us he could kiss, soon after midnight my spoons were done so he walked me to the car to kiss me again. Just as I got into the car I told him I have an ileostomy bag due to ulcerative colitis and left it with him. I figured, it’s now up to him, he would either accept me for who I was or not and I would continue with the life I was living. I didn’t have to wait long until I had my answer. He was on my doorstep the next evening with more questions and information about my condition than I had even asked or found out and I had been living it for years.
Check out my ostomy awareness blog for more information on what an ostomy is.
Things progressed steadily from there, making our relationship Facebook official Valentine’s Day, I was in and out of hospital and he was there. We spent our time split between my house and Peter’s mum’s as his house was still getting built. About a month after making everything official while staying at his mother’s house my bag exploded while sleeping, one of those blow outs you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, the ones where no matter which what way to try to catch it just makes it worse. It was all over the bed, the floor and me. This is not the first time it had happened and if I was at home I would have just jumped in the shower and then fixed everything else up after the fact but when you are at someone else’s house that is very hard.
I had no choice but to jump in the shower and leave the mess until I got out as I was only making it worse the more I tried to clean it up, by the time I had emerged, he had stripped the bed and was in the process of cleaning the floor. I was mortified to say the least, here was my new partner cleaning up my poo off his mother’s floor. He wasn’t fazed but I was, I promptly took over as he made the bed for us. The next morning we woke and all was as it had been. It was only years later after we married that he told me that I also pooped on him…. I can tell you now that if I had realised this I would have made the worst decision of my life; I would have packed my bags and disappeared from his life permanently out of self-regard.
Thai wedding bells and beyond
But I didn’t and our relationship grew until he I was finally well enough to look after myself and my sister and her family moved out of my house leaving the door open for him to move in. That Christmas he asked me to marry him with a lolly ring he got out of his Christmas stocking, I promptly said yes and then ate my ring thinking he was joking. With no proof of his proposal he told me I would have to wait for the real thing and a year to the day he surprised me with a real ring on in front of our combined families the next Christmas.
We married April 12th 2013 in Koh Samui Thailand, given there was never any energy for pretenses pre-marriage due to spending most of this time in hospital or bed, he knew the good the bad and the ugly from day one so nothing changed except our pet names for each other from babe to Husband and Wife. It’s been four years and my health still has its ups and downs the biggest of which is we have been unable to conceive. Not to despair, we are currently on the waiting list for an adoptee child from Thailand and hope for some good news in the coming years. However, even if this doesn’t come to fruition our family will be complete as is and there is enough love there to survive any shit storm that may come our way.