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Colostomy Pride

Each year, hundreds of people undergo a colostomy or “ostomy," as a result of their bowel being partially removed. After Jason McIntosh had an ostomy last year due to Crohn's disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, he started a business with his wife called Awestomy, a company that sells attractive undergarments for colostomy bags. 

"I've suffered from Crohn's disease for over 15 years, which is under the umbrella of irritable bowel diseases. I was having a real struggle. And I had an abscess that formed in my large intestine that ended up bursting my colon on some level, which caused for the emergency surgery," says Jason.

Q. How has it been to adjust to life with a colostomy bag?

A. Initially the recovery is probably a month to two months, just to kind of get back to normal. You're not only dealing with bodily issues that you've got to get used to, but mental issues, too, to get back into your normal social calendar. For me, I'm a big exerciser so it was hard to get back into running. You're dealing with appliances attached to your body. In general, the surgical healing process can take quite a while because it's right in your abdomen and you really have to rebuild your entire core strength.

Q. You started this with your fiancé. You started this great product line called Awestomy. It's funny t-shirts and undergarments to wear with your colostomy bag. You seem to absolutely have come to terms with it. Not only that but taken it another step. Tell me a little bit about the process that you went through to get to that place.

A. Initially my fiancé Jessica and I reached out to online ostomy support groups, and what we found there with people that posted online were not only the physical issues but mental, and overcoming the fact that they've got this going. I consider myself a pretty positive person. I think our initial idea was: we just want to get it out in the public that it's not something that has to be secret. It's something that someone goes through. And it's a life saving surgery. But because it deals with bathroom issues, it's easy comic fodder for people. It was more of a: "Let's flip the negative stigma. Let's be positive. Let's have a sense of humor. And give it the proper meaning of what it is, which is something that's life saving."