A White Lie- about an ostomy

A White Lie- about an ostomy

Don’t tell lies, ever. No matter what – not even little white lies.Margaret Keane-mom

depicting the scene
Mr Ponusamy and daughter with a patient

(Bahasa Malaysia translation

(中文 Chinese translation)

Mr. Ponusamy was accompanied by his daughter

to see a stomaltherapist.

Although the care of his stoma

and the skin around it was excellent,

he made many complaints about them

It must have been difficult for him to accept

having a bag on his tummy to collect his faeces.

The surgeon would not reconnect his intestines

nor close the stoma as proposed  six months earlier.

“They said that it was a barium sulphate blockage in my colon.

But it has been removed already. They should be able to re-attach

the intestines and close this ‘thing’, this stoma,

so I can defecate naturally from my anus!

But they cannot give me a good reason

on why they won’t operate to revert my condition!”

The daughter called the stomaltherapist aside.

“All his children agreed and told the surgeon

not to tell him that he has cancer of the colon.

He is 88 years old and had two heart operations before! 

We are afraid that he may have another attack!”

“I’m retired, but I’m a well-read man. 

My fatigue or feeling tired all the times;

alternating bowel habits of diarrhoea and constipation;

sudden weight loss; blood in my stools;

all point out the signs and symptoms of cancer, aren’t they?”

“…you have just said it, yourself!

This is the report of your biopsy.

Yes, it’s true… “

Mr. Ponusamy kept quiet.

The two ladies glanced at each other, worriedly.

“Do keep an eye on your father at home!

Call me or your surgeon whenever necessary!”

During the following months,

Mr. Ponusamy would drop by the ward

whenever there were patients scheduled for ostomy surgeries.

His daughter would standby dutifully, from a distant,

as her father went on to explain systematically to a new patient

about how to care for a stoma.

We found a prolific speaker in him, too.

Mr. Ponusamy shared his experiences

at seminars for healthcare professionals

and patients with intestinal cancer and stomas.

“I have a successful career, loving children and grandchildren.

But, I would be happier if I was told the truth from the beginning

so that I can make plans and do the best I can, with the time I have left.”

A white lie, no matter how well intended it was meant to be,

should one tell or not tell, a white lie?

– Serena Chen S.P. @ TPTan –

26, October 2020

Published by Chen S. P. @ TPTan

Serena Chen @TPTan, Master degree in nursing (Monash) . Serena teaches local and overseas nurses in a stomaltherapy program. She had presented papers internationally. Serena is a member of the ‘Golden Key International Society (Monash). She was an editor of a mental health bulletin and she enjoys pottery works, cartoons, painting and poems. She shares insightful experiences about being a carer for people with mental illness and cancer in this defining society.

One thought on “A White Lie- about an ostomy

  1. When I was a palliative care nurse consultant , some families wouldn’t tell their elderly family members that they were dying, if the patient asked us we would tell them. As families knew we could not or would not lie, they were told this at consent to our service. All clients have the right to know the truth as many have unfinished personal matters that need to be attended to allow them to be at peace with themselves so they can live and die with dignity.
    Good simple article , but thought provoking . 😊

    A mentor from Perth, Jennifer Houghton
    (With her permission from messenger)

%d bloggers like this: