Finding love with an ostomy

Caitlin M<sup>c</sup>Ginnis

Caitlin McGinnis

It’s amazing how better I feel about dating. I just needed that boost of confidence to know that someone CAN and WILL appreciate me and think I’m sexy with an ostomy.

I’ve written a few articles in the past on dating. This one is a little different because after many years of being single, I am dating someone who is really special. Dating with an ostomy can definitely be a challenge. Finding a way to tell that person for the first time is my biggest challenge. I’ve realized over the years that there isn’t a specific time when you tell someone, it’s whenever feels right.

When I first had my surgery, I made the mistake of telling people on the first date. I don’t recommend that at all! My eight surgeries and my ostomy consumed my life in the beginning and that’s all I had to talk about. I took time off work to physically heal and put school on hold. I didn’t have much else going on. Unfortunately, but not surprising, I didn’t hear from any of those men again. I can’t say I blame them. That’s a lot to put on someone for a first date.

As I began dating regularly, it got easier. I waited until the person got to know me better and it felt that it was leading to something more. Figuring out how to explain it is probably harder than finding the right time to tell someone. Most people I dated had no idea what Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis was let alone an ostomy. I always struggled with how to start it off. I usually started with “Have you heard of Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis?” and I went from there. I’d get the occasional “yes” and that would make it somewhat easier. Other times, I had to start from scratch. Needless to say, very few of the men I dated asked any questions after I told them and many of them, I saw maybe once or twice and then for some reason stopped talking to me. It was hard not to assume that it was related to the news I just told them. If they can’t handle it then their loss, right?

I’ve been on dating sites on and off for the past few years. I don’t have anything ostomy related on them. As I get older, I’ll only mention it if I see it leading to a relationship. I recently met someone online and we also happen to work together (kind of). I’ve had my eyes on him for the past year but was too nervous to ask him out in person so when I found him online, I asked him out there and so happy I did. I only wish I had asked him out sooner! I told him about my ostomy sooner than I had originally thought I would but the timing felt right. I would say I was fortunate enough that he works in the medical field and knows what an ostomy is. However, with that being said, it didn’t make it any easier to tell him. I was terrified! I was terrified that I would be rejected; that he would no longer find me attractive or sexy and would lose interest.

He was coming back from a vacation and I offered to pick him up from the airport and drive him home. Because he lives further away from my house, we decided that I would stay the night. I figured I’d have to tell him because he’d probably hear it making noises in the middle of the night. I won’t forget how anxious I was leading up to that night. I just blurted it out saying, “I have an ostomy and I want you to know in case it makes you feel different about me”. He couldn’t have responded any better. He said that it doesn’t change how he feels about me and that his family member has one and it doesn’t bother him. WOW!! Can I tell you how happy and relieved I was at that moment?!? That was the best response I could have hoped for.

I’d like to think I’m a pretty confident person. I wear fitted clothes and I’ve done modeling and photoshoots. But I don’t always feel sexy especially when it comes to my ostomy. It’s been particularly hard since I haven’t been in an intimate relationship with someone since my surgeries. I was nervous that someone wouldn’t find me sexy with a bag attached to me. Well apparently there are good men out there still and I definitely found one. He’s heard it make noises and reacts in the best way. It doesn’t bother him and doesn’t make a big deal about it. I end up being the one pointing it out!

It’s amazing how better I feel about dating. I just needed that boost of confidence to know that someone CAN and WILL appreciate me and think I’m sexy with an ostomy. I feel like deep down I knew I’d find someone who would but now that it’s happening, it feels even better.

Meet Caitlin

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