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Life and How You Live It

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It was about 3 a.m. when I awoke to go to the bathroom. As I looked out the bathroom window, I could see it was snowing. Thinking I would do my parents a favor and shovel the sidewalks for them, I got dressed and went outside.

There was something strange about this early morning venture; I could feel it. I started shoveling and suddenly a bright light passed before my eyes … I could feel myself caught up in some kind of whirlwind.

The next thing I remember was two policemen and a neighbor from across the street hovering around me. They picked me up and took me into the house. That was my first episode with epilepsy. I was thirteen; I’m now seventy-three. If you do the math, you’ll see it was 1948.

Fast forward sixty years:

Almost seven years ago I went to see a surgeon about removing what my family doctor and I thought were hemorrhoids. After bending over and having what looked like a small telescope shoved up my rear-end, the doctor exclaimed, “I’m afraid it’s a little worse than hemorrhoids, I’ll have to take a cutting.” As soon as I heard the word “cutting” I thought “CANCER!” But, wait, I thought, “It can’t be; I’ve had several sigmoidoscopies plus barium enemas, and all proved negative.”

Three days later I was called by the surgeon telling me I had colon cancer. He had made arrangements at the local hospital … I had to have surgery, immediately.

Thank God I’m still here but why didn’t the cancer show up in the two sigmoidoscopies and barium enemas I went through?

The cancer was holed up in a muscle at the end of the anus. When the tube was inserted it passed the diseased area before it could be detected. (So much for modern medicine.)

After my colostomy surgery, I tried to find support in my community. Unfortunately there was none! The hospital had done away with “Ostomy Nurses.” The nurses in the hospital were poorly trained, in fact, their training was much the same as mine after surgery … watching a short film on how to care for your colostomy.

At one of my three-month sessions with my doctor, I mentioned the fact there were no support groups in the area. He jokingly said, “Why don’t you start one?” I started to think about this and what could be done to help others in similar situations.

Searching the Web, I submerged myself in everything I could about ostomies. I learned so much I eventually wrote a Tip Sheet for fellow ostomates calling it “The Ostomates Owners Manual.”

Over the next several months I continued to learn. Yet, in the back of my mind I thought how a support group would benefit people who were going to have, or who just had, such surgery.

I eventually found a small place where senior citizens had exercise classes. The site was affiliated with the hospital. I contacted the head nurse and told her of my idea. After all, what had I to lose?

She loved the idea, but first had to check with the hospital administration to see if it was it was all right. Fortunately it was and the Bayonne Ostomy Alliance was born.

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