Thursday, February 5, 2015


I've been feeling about as pretty close to dead, emotionally, as one can get this past week, until I woke up this morning, tapped my beloved FB open and saw a picture of a new IBD friend's belly, with the hashtag #getyourbellyout. Don't ask me how this campaign has escaped me, but when I touched the hashtag I found a facebook group, 7,000+ strong, painted with pictures of IBD sufferers' bellies: ileostomies, colostomies, scars, staples, stitches, stomas and all. I caught a quick breath, and for a moment felt a thump of life. I'm not alone. There are others. There other survivors in these treacherous waters.

IBD is a disease that is so complex, so misunderstood. So difficult. Isolating. Challenging.... Lonely. I have more or less hidden my belly from the public, not because I am ashamed, but because so many find it shocking, offensive- disgusting, even. For those of us with IBD, this is the body we live in day in and day out, we have no choice but to accept and embrace. As a fellow IBDer told me recently, "I hated my ostomy so much until one day I woke up and realized it had saved my life. I realized that something that saved my life could not be anything but beautiful." It's a romantic concept, I'll admit. Perhaps seeing the shock of an ostomy, or stoma, does not follow our normalized conceptions of aesthetic beauty, but this idea of it, the semiotics that stand behind the symbol of the stoma, or the scars: I may not see them as beautiful, but I do see them as bad-ass. They are my battle wounds. My stars. My stripes. They symbolize, more than anything else on my body, my survivor-ship, my fight, and my story.

So, as you may have guessed, I am here today to "get my belly out." I won't apologize if it offends you. I won't offer any discretionary cautions. Because this is me. It's who I am. It's what I'm made of. And it isn't something that deserves an apology. #getyourbellyout

Katie after laparotomy #4 (abdominal surgery #6)

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