US mum Dallas Fowler is using an unpleasant shopping experience to highlight the stigma around her two year old son's rare illness.
Her son, Jameus Alexander, has a health problem called Hirschsprung’s disease, which affects the large intestines and prevents the bowel to pass stool. Because of his condition Jameus has two stomas (a surgically created opening that allows the body to expel waste) and ostomy bags (to collect the waste expelled) on his stomach. Usually he has a onesie to keep things in place, but because his mum was just running to the store she didn’t put him in one on this particular night she explains on her Facebook page.
While waiting at the shop's checkout counter Fowler's two-year-old wanted his mum to hold him. So she picked him up out of a shopping trolley and his shirt came up exposing the bags and stomas on his stomach.
“There was an older woman in line behind me who caught a glimpse,” Fowler writes, “and [she] shrieked a little before she said to me, "why in the world would you let someone do that to him?”
The mother was speechless and turned to look at the woman who continued to ask why he had the bags on his stomach.
Dallas answered simply. “I gave her the short version and basically said, ‘his colon didn’t finish forming so he needed them’,” she writes.
She didn’t explain about the Hirschsprung's disease because she was annoyed. The woman continued to insult this mother and son.
“She then goes, ‘well I am sorry but I just think that is so 'repulsing', can you please keep his shirt down?’ At this point I just wanted to shake this woman and scream, ‘what is wrong with you?!’ But instead, I told her to have a good night and went to another line,” Dallas writes.
This mother is sharing her story because she wants people to know that there’s nothing repulsive about her son. She wants to remove the stigma around stomas and ostomies, and writes that she doesn’t want people treating him any differently for having them.
“See what that woman doesn't understand is, when my son is healthy, he is no different than any other two-year-old… When he's healthy, you wouldn't be able to look at him and know he's had over 20 surgeries and procedures,” she writes.
“He's my heart. He is so funny, and full of personality. He is sweet and loving and kind but also a little ball of fire.”
This mother is asking people to be kind and to choose words wisely because everyone is fighting their own battle that you know nothing about.