Monthly Archives: August 2011

Downsizing

So, I just got back from a trip to the beach. Yay! Although in reality there are limited opportunities for rest and relaxation when on vacation with a 3.5 year old, it was a great trip and wonderful for us to get away.

One evening as we were walking back from dinner, I was able to take a detour for some ice cream while my husband and son headed to the hotel. Although I was on a mission for butter pecan ice cream (yes, I know people either love or hate that flavor–I love it!) a shirt on a sale rack outside a store caught my eye. I was looking for something to wear to the dinner in lieu of a ropes-course-extravaganza, but realized I had little to wear. I thought a nice blouse with some black slacks would do the trick, but don’t really have many “going out” clothes so was on the hunt. Plus I’m attending a wedding in a few months and needed an appropriate dress. So, I meandered into the store and started picking up items to try on.

The store I went to was White House Black Market. This is not a store I’ve had much luck with previously, and I do find their prices a bit high. But I was really drawn to the clothes they were showing. Normally I would walk into a store like this, try on one or two things, shrug my shoulders thinking nothing fit, and leave feeling dejected. Something unusual happened though. A salesperson actually helped me!

Of course I realize she was fueled by the power of commission, but she pulled in all sorts of different clothes to try on, shoes to try on with the outfits, jewelry, the works… Usually this kind of attention, when not done with your best interest at heart, is annoying. Yet she was really good at what she was doing, seemed to be having fun, and appeared to be truly trying to help me. Amazing!

This is where it gets interesting. I tried on many things in my usual size. The cut of their dresses was flattering, but there were still parts that didn’t feel quite right. I fell in love with a particular dress in my usual size, but the salesperson insisted that I  try on a size smaller. I did just that and could see how it hugged my body better. I felt more “aware” of it in the smaller size, but it actually fit me instead of just sitting on top of me. When I questioned the fit, she said “that is how it is supposed to fit.” I realized she was right.

I am still prone to wear clothing that is too big. Self-conscious about my cleavage in high school and college, I practically lived in baggy t-shirts.  And then, with the ileostomy, my desire to hide behind clothes multiplied. It was only about five years ago that I really started to wear my correct size (or so I thought). But, as this experience showed me, I still veer towards wanting things to feel ‘loose.’ I really don’t want to be one of those women you look at and wonder how long the seams on an outfit will last! And I have the fear that my ileostomy will show. Yet, I clearly need to wear clothing that fits my body and is flattering.

I bought the dress, in the smaller size, and also bought the cute cranberry shrug to go with it. The awesome a-line skirt really works well and the belt on the dress hits just the top part of my ileostomy. I also bought this blouse for my “what-do-I-wear-to-dinner” mission. It looks great with the sleeves worn up on the shoulders, by the way, and I didn’t even realize it was supposed to be worn off the shoulders until I found this picture of it online.

A sidenote….at one point I wanted to show the salesperson that a particular skirt was too big. I must have been so comfortable with her that I totally forgot what would happen was I lifted the blouse up a bit to show her my waistline. Sure enough, I flashed her my ileostomy. Just the top part that was peaking above my waistband, but that is enough! I sort of froze for a moment, lowered my shirt, and then just continued on with what I was saying. She gave me a quizzical look, but that was that. It jolted me out of the feeling of playing dress up. Oh well.

At any rate, I ended up staying way too much time in that store and I never got that butter pecan ice cream that night. It was a great experience since it reminded me that I shouldn’t be shy about making sure the clothes fit my body. I guess sometimes it is good to get our your comfort zone to try to find what really works. It really helped to have an outside opinion to give me the proverbial wake-up slap on my cheek. Now I need to revisit my closet and see if I can identify the way-to-big clothes that I know are lurking in there.

Oh yeah…I got that butter pecan ice cream the next day. Yum!

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Zip-a-Dee-Do Dah

So, here’s something I never thought about until recently. I was invited to a non-traditional birthday gathering at a ropes course. This is one of those places were you climb rope ladders, fly on zip lines, and otherwise flex some muscle. I didn’t want to participate for a number of reasons. The first, and this will not shock anyone who knows me, is that it is just not my idea of fun.

However, I also had some serious worries about how I would hold up. This event would be outside in August, and that means it could be H-O-T hot! As you probably know, with an ileostomy, dehydration is an enemy.  On this course you are not allowed to bring along anything and need to have your hands free. So, I imagine schlepping along some Gatorade is out of the question. Plus the course is supposed to take up to 3 hours to complete. That’s a long time for heat, humidity,and exertion. What if I feel I’m pushing it too far and need to stop? Hard to stop when you are 40 feet up in the air and attached to a zip line. Plus this group of people, who I barely know, may not be very supportive or understanding.

And then I wondered about the harness you have to wear. What if it smushes my ileostomy or causes any harm? What if it is painfully uncomfortable for 3 hours?I read some discussions online, and it sounds like zip-line harness usually don’t cause a problem. However, it depends on the placement of the stoma.

I debated this for quite some time. I hate to feel like a wimp, but I’ve come to appreciate the fact that I can avoid potentially stressful or even dangerous (health-wise, that is) situations. I’ve wimped out and declined the invitations. The good part is they are also gathering for dinner after and I plan to join the festivities then.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that I would like to do this. But I want it on my terms in a way that feels controlled and comfortable. I want to go in Autumn when it is not hot, plus I want to do it with some close friends who I know will be supportive.

So, why do I want to do it? Well…..I know I’m doing the right thing by not participating with this group at this time. But, I almost feel like a challenge has been issued and I want to get out of my comfort zone. It could be really empowering and fun. So, maybe, just maybe, I’ll do it and be sure it is at a time and place where I am comfortable. Maybe that is the most empowering thing of all!?

Let’s talk about…shhhhhh

First, thanks to Ostomy Secrets Facebook page for pointing to this blog.  This actually inspired me to write a post about…well…..

Let’s be frank, shall we?  There can be those private moments when a gal doesn’t want to think about an ostomy. I’m very blessed to have a wonderful husband who doesn’t seem to notice or care about my ilesotomy. But, it still bothers me in those intimate moments. Sometimes I wrap a scarf around my waist. Other times…and this is going to sound totally weird and I can’t believe I’m even writing this publicly….I wear a tight t-shirt or tank top around my waist. When I do this, the shirt is bunched up (let’s call it ruched to be fancy) and resting above my thighs.  It holds my ileostomy in place but admittedly may not look fabulous. Usually, though,  I am…..well…..au naturalle, and don’t think about it until I hear the crink-crink-crinkling of my ileostomy.

I’ve been thinking about purchasing the Ostomy Secrets “Foxy Wrap.”  These look very va-va-va voom. Rrrrrrr. Seems like it could be a good solution. I also have looked into the My Hip-T. Even though these are not designed for this purpose, I wonder if they could help ‘contain’ the situation.

Can I tell you a secret? I did something totally daring recently. On a lark, I scheduled a “boudoir” photo shot to surprise my husband with a photo book. This was something COMPLETELY unexpected for me to do, and actually was a great deal of fun. This was a really big deal for me and, honestly, I’m so proud of myself for doing it. I’ve come a long way from the girl who was self-conscious about her ileostomy and wore baggy pants two sizes too big just to hide in them. Still, I really stressed over what to wear for the pics. I delved into the world of lingerie to find things that made me feel sexy and look photo-ready.

My favorite outfit was this slip from Victoria’s Secret. I was so excited when I discovered that I could wear this….I was able to fold my ileostomy in a way that it was hiding behind the pink panel in the front. I went all out with the garters, stockings, heels and even wore a long strand of pearls. Doing the photo shoot was quite liberating. And it is really a thrill to look at the photos and not think “Hmm…can you see my ilesotomy?” but instead think “Dang, that’s me!!”