**Days 18-22 Prompt: Is there an inspirational or motivational quote that you aim to live your life by? Is there an object in your home or office or even something you pass by on your way to work or to do errands that inspires you and reminds you to keep moving forward and remain strong despite the obstacles your condition throws at you? Why do these words or objects inspire you, how have they helped you, and how can you incorporate them more into your daily life?**
Several months ago I received an email from Liz Prosser at The Bowel Movement regarding one of their Gastronaut puppets, “Lucy.” To give you a bit of background, Gastronaut puppets are puppets created and sent to children around the world who have either received an ostomy of some sort themselves or who have a parent/sibling, etc. who has received an ostomy. The purpose of these puppets is to encourage self-esteem for these young ostomates and to foster education for those related to ostomates.The puppet I received, “Lucy,” is nothing short of amazing. When I received the package that contained Lucy, I intentionally did not open it for several days. Though I’m 31 years old, I somehow knew that this puppet was going to have an emotional impact on me and I wanted to be ready for it. When I felt prepared a few days later, I sat down in a sunny spot in our living room and slowly opened the package. Inside was a black drawstring sack. I pulled it out, opened it up, and with my heart in my throat, lifted Lucy up. She was dark skinned, with dark braided hair in bow-tied pigtails, and wore pastel purple pants and a light pink shirt. A laminated card with her picture hung as a pendant around her neck and read, “Hi, my name is Lucy and I am an Ostomate too. I can be your Special Pal. We can talk together and we can share our secrets. You can take me to school and on hospital visits. I want to meet your friends, doctors and nurses. You are not alone – we are Ostomates together.” Directly below this tag the top of a very mini ostomy bag poked out from underneath her bumblebee-decorated wrap. I pulled the wrap down and found Lucy’s ostomy. Her small, red stoma had an Eakin-like seal around it with a see-through ostomy bag on top and a cute little sticker for decoration.
I stared at Lucy for quite awhile with a huge smile on my face and tears running down my cheeks. Even as an adult, this puppet meant so much to me. I thought about the people who put her together and how they must have felt knowing that something so “simple” would have such a huge emotional impact on their recipient. And then I thought about all the children around the world who receive Gastronaut puppets like Lucy and I realized that we would all share the same thought upon looking at our new friend, no matter our age: I AM NOT ALONE.
Lucy, for me, serves as a daily reminder of not only the ostomy community of which I’m a part, but also of my advocacy and health activist goals for the future. I have been asked by The Bowel Movement to create a sort of “personality profile” for Lucy that focuses on all the ways in which Lucy stays physically active. I will also be taking Lucy with me on many trips to local hospitals, doctor’s offices, and medical clinics as a way to introduce her and her other Gastronaut brothers and sisters to doctors and nurses who can help connect the Gastronaut puppets with the children who need them.
I see Lucy and her effect on me being a part of my life for a very long time. It’s not everyday that you find something so meaningful that you want others to know as much about it as possible in the hopes that they, too, will also realize they are not alone.
To read more about the Gastronauts and The Bowel Movement, check out these links: