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Real People Discuss Life with an Ostomy
Book Review by David McGee
Brenda Elsagher, comedienne, author, and public speaker, has written four books. The most recent book, It’s in the Bag and Under the Covers, is groundbreaking, with stories of people with ostomies talking about dating, sex, intimacy, and caregiving. They reveal an honest look at a previously taboo subject. These are real stories by real people—always hoping to help someone who is new to living life with an ostomy—about subjects they have rarely, if ever before, spoken of. There is heartbreak, as well as triumph, and everything in between.
Maybe you need some ideas on how to tell your date you have an ostomy or maybe you just want to see how other people handle intimacy. It’s all here for you to read. There are over sixty stories; some are a couple of paragraphs long, others a couple of pages. Also, sixty-plus contributor biographies (many complete with e-mail contacts) are included. My wife and I met over a dozen of these “fellow contributors” at this year’s United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA) conference, so I can verify they are real people! (My story is on page 7.)
Brenda’s first book, If the Battle Is Over, Why Am I Still in Uniform?, is based on her experience with colorectal cancer at age thirty-nine. Brenda uses irreverent humor to cope with the devastating news of a colostomy, and she tells her story openly and honestly. As you read, you are likely to find yourself truly laughing out loud (lol).
Her second book, I’d Like to Buy a Bowel Please!, came about after she got to know hundreds of people who had suffered with bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, along with bladder and colon cancers. These stories are also filled with humor and hope, as well as a slice of daily life with an ostomy. You’ll also get educated on the reasons people need an ostomy, and how this drastic surgery has been not only a lifesaver, but a life-enhancer for many.
Bedpan Banter is Brenda’s third book. It is a compilation of medically related stories from nurses, doctors, patients, and caregivers. We all know someone who’s faced a medical issue; at some point in our lives that someone will be us, and at other times, we will want to help another in their situation. This book is a celebration of people and their ability to laugh during difficult times. It is truly a survival guide to accepting life’s challenges.
LifelineLetter, January/February 2012