Kids Say the Honest Things with Brenda Elsagher

Brenda introduces her children to her ostomy.

Ostomy disasters are just fodder for comedy for Brenda Elsagher

My kids and I were having an adjustment period to my new ostomy. Even though I had been working with a colostomy for a few months, I was trying something new for me called stoma irrigation. I heard that some people actually moved around with an ostomy belt on while irrigating and that sounded a little complicated, so I never planned on doing that. Besides, an hour in the bathroom without children might be a welcomed break.

One day, my kids, ages 4 and 6 years old at the time, yelled at me through the bathroom door. “When are you coming out of the bathroom, Mum? We are hungry!” my son whined.

I said, “Give me a minute; I’ll be out to help you soon.”

Well, I thought, This might be a good time as any to try out moving around with this thing attached. I got out the trusty clip and attached it on the bottom, washed up, made sure everything was in place, and felt like I was cheating time, because ostomy irrigation can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour before it’s complete. I felt pretty confident as I went downstairs in my night gown. I got out the bowls, milk, corn flakes, cut up some bananas for their cereal, and was talking to them as they sat on their stools at the kitchen bar. We were laughing about something when all of a sudden, *PLOP!* My bag had slid down out of place without me knowing it and now a pile of poop was on the floor being observed by my children. They appeared shocked for a moment comprehending on what had just happened. Then John with the spoon almost to his mouth, stopped and said, “Gross!” then continued eating his cereal.

Of course I was honest with them about what I was going through in language that they would understand. From a very early age they knew that most people didn’t go through this but their mum did. I knew they were adjusting okay when I could hear them through the window the following month.

“Stay right in the front yard while I am in the bathroom,” I yelled through my upstairs window.

They had a friend from next door over and they played for a while. I heard him asking them a question.

“How come you are talking to your mum through the window?”

My son answered, “She has to sit in the bathroom because she poops through her tummy!”

Then I heard them all giggling. Now I had some explaining to do to the neighbors. As far as I know my children never needed therapy over it.

Both of my children went into the healthcare professions. Those kids are now 29 and 26. John became a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant working with people who have been injured on the job, and is married with a daughter and another baby on the way. My daughter, Jehan, is single and sets up scheduling for a spine doctor. Growing up hearing ostomy stories and other medical talk might have shaped their futures. In the early days they went to every national ostomy conference with us too. They have a lot of compassion for people and have worked with people with many kinds of disabilities. Maybe because I had an ostomy it helped them. Our life experiences, although difficult at times can sometimes turn out very good in ways we never imagined. I have been most grateful for my ostomy to see my family (and me) grow older.


*Please note: The content of this article is not meant as medical advice. Routine ostomy/stoma irrigation is done on doctor’s orders. Irrigation may be an option for a person who has a descending colostomy or a sigmoid colostomy, and is not appropriate for people with a urostomy or ileostomy. If you are interested in learning the technique of irrigation it is very important that you talk with your healthcare professional for more information.

Prior to use, be sure to read the Instructions for Use for information regarding Intended Use, Contraindications, Warnings, Precautions, and Instructions.

Brenda Elsagher is a loud and proud member of the ostomy community and a good friend of Hollister Incorporated. She is an international keynote speaker, author and comedian.

Her books include: If the Battle is Over, Why am I Still in Uniform?; I’d Like to Buy a Bowel Please!; Bedpan Banter; It’s in the Bag and Under the Covers; and Your Glasses Are on Top of Your Head. You can find out more about her at

Financial Disclosure: Brenda received compensation from Hollister Incorporated for her contribution to this article.