Self awareness is sometimes sought and other times forced upon a person. The awakening of personal realization can be spurred by an event that forces a person to view his or her place in the world differently. Many times a diagnoses of an illness causes a shift in who someone thinks he or she is as a person. A diagnoses, for instance, becomes a label for medical staff and, at the same time, a posted sign for everyone to read. Whether society is commonly aware or not, a diagnoses makes a patient conscious that he or she is someone with something. A diagnoses can become an attachment estranged from the rest of the identity. It makes someone feel as if there is something intrinsically about them that, at the same time, isn't them.
It changes not their moral, their intellect, or their humanity, but the way they live. It often encompasses routines, office visits, and conversations. It can limit a person's mobility in terms of function and social acceptance. Changes in dietary habits can impact the pleasant night at a restaurant that strictly adheres to a no change policy on the menu. Others may take pity on someone's diagnoses when all the patient wants to do is feel emotionally strong again.
Such is the topic of my sister's fundraising campaign through The Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. There are many reasons why a person would need a G.I. ostomy bag, as explained on the fundraising website. The campaign seeks to raise awareness, acceptance, and enough money to provide thousands of patients with a cover for their G.I. ostomy bag.
The purpose is not to hide the bag and its importance in a patient's life, but to provide a sense of ownership and control over the patient's new identity. Many times the need for a bag is the result of life saving surgery and the explanation of its necessity can be a heavy setback in becoming comfortable with oneself. The cover provides emotional ownership of something that is attached on the outside designed to mimic the internal. It is this ownership that translates into beauty.
To give people their right to be of themselves, proud of themselves, and aware of themselves is the work of beauty itself. There is nothing like the smile of the person who has been through a hope laden transgression of surgical procedure and self doubt. It is the smile of being accepted. It is the smile of being loved. It is the smile of knowing everything is going to alright because life is better with them around. It is the point of resilience when the human spirit is at its highest and despair at its lowest.
Illness touches every person in this life however it comes, and hopefully it leaves. Sometimes it lingers with a painful treatment, and other times it changes the world through every person one cure at a time. Illness is senseless in a scientific world of medicine. Yet, it affords an opportunity to a realization that life is beautiful in all of its forms and with all of its tribulations. It is the human endeavor to overcome and admit that even though I do not know you, I know you are beautiful.