WHAT IS THE STOMA?
The word “stoma” comes from the ancient Greek and means mouth. It is an opening that the surgeon, after removing or excluding the rectum or bladder, creates by connecting the intestine or the urinary tract to the skin to ensure the functioning of these organs. Through the “stoma” stool or urine is discharged freely then collected in special bags that adhere to the peristomal skin. The stoma is certainly a serious handicap which, however, is needed to save the lives of many people.
Medical care around the world has incredible disparities: there are levels of great excellence alongside very primitive realities, all occurring with the complete indifference of Western countries living selfishly in their golden reality. Almost always, in order to capture audiences, TV programs show images that afflict our planet when they are the result of catastrophic events or major epidemic diseases. If not for these tragic events, most people would completely ignore the “less fortunate” who sometimes live just around the corner.
In technically advanced countries, the problem of the stoma is not as strongly felt because, with modern and expensive treatments, the number of permanent ostomies has been significantly reduced. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world hospitals do not always exist; patients do not have the opportunity to consult a doctor and often die in their villages without even a diagnosis. Slowly, this situation is changing and more and more patients can reach the hospital in time to have life-saving treatments, but the availability of these treatments are proportionate to the local economic resources.
Since the stoma is quite an inexpensive life-saving treatment, its use has steadily increased in poor countries, and this fact must necessarily make the surgeon reflect. In fact, if it was once justified that the surgeon’s attention was mainly focused on the search for technical solutions, today, he certainly can’t be satisfied with having solved these problems without also considering that, with his intervention, he has created a survivor with a severe disability.
In Western countries, rehabilitation centers have been set up, with specialized medical and nursing staff; associations of stoma patients have been founded as well as groups of volunteers focused on helping these people to regain the will to live. Sadly, in many emerging countries there is no help and the ostomate, left to himself, is marginalized and sometimes resorts to suicide.
Unfortunately, even children can be ostomates. Because of this serious problem and our indifference , unless they are helped and rehabilitated, they don’t play with other children, they don’t attend school and they grow up illiterate and marginalized.