Stay Home, Stay Safe

Brenda Elsagher discovers the humor hidden in social distancing.


Read Brenda’s personal story of how she has coped with the COVID-19 pandemic.

I love to be home. It’s my safe place to be…almost always. I’m at the age where I am having tune-ups. I had my knee replaced in November 2019 and heart surgery in January 2020 (everything works great), so I have been lounging in my abode quite a bit. When you’ve seen every Hallmark Channel movie, you’ve been home too long.

The last time I was off for three months, I had ostomy surgery. Then, it was the dust on my walls that bugged me. Now, I had a list of 100 things to do around the house and, while in recovery from my heart surgery, I had the perfect excuse to postpone them: I still hadn’t seen every episode of American Pickers or Naked and Afraid.

I was excited to be working in February, speaking in front of 500 women in South Dakota; that was a lot of hugging and shaking hands. Then the COVID-19 virus came. My eight speaking engagements for the spring were canceled or delayed, and it looks like summer and fall presentations will follow. Not only that, we’re supposed to stay home and stay safe. Home with my retired husband; the only thing he finds entertaining about me is how my hair looks in the morning.

Like many of you, I readjusted my thinking. I remembered being isolated early on with my ostomy. I had skin issues causing the pouch to fall off. I tried so many products to get the right fit. In the hospital three weeks, home care for six, and finally the big day came to go out of the house. My kids were young, and we frequently needed to shop at Target; it was my first trip out alone. I was browsing the aisles for two hours before I thought about my ostomy. Eventually the ostomy and I bonded, along with a United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA) support group of people dealing with ostomies. We all started to tackle life in a “new normal” way and we will now as a nation too.

Those of us living with ostomies know that a good sense of humor helps when things are crappy, literally. Keeping a safe distance these days has a different meaning now than it did when I first had my ostomy. Then it was my family trying to safe distance from me!

I hope first responders and healthcare professionals get enough light-heartedness to cope with the tragedy they face. Same for those of us that have already lost loved ones. These are different times when we can’t comfort each other face-to-face. So we do it in new ways. Friends are having happy hours together virtually. One couple picks a nephew or niece to have dinner with via Facetime.

I have adjusted to not working just a little too well. I read books, color, have good conversations with friends and family, and enjoy live videos watching my grandkids grow. FYI, I baked some delicious brownies, and 2009 Hershey chocolate is still good!

I am volunteering as an advisor for the Level 1 class of the humor academy at Because our conference was canceled, we will be holding it virtually. I expect it will be a challenge. I will learn and benefit by it; just like I did when I first got my ostomy. It was a lifesaving surgery and these days we are staying home and staying safe so that other people’s lives may be saved.

So, keep looking for the humor around you, it’s there. I’m going to add to our nation’s wishes: Stay home, stay safe, stay laughing.

Brenda Elsagher has been living with an ostomy for 25 years. International speaker, author and comic, you can find out more about Brenda at, and follow her on Facebook @BrendaElsagher.

Financial Disclosure: Brenda Elsagher received compensation from Hollister Incorporated for her contribution to this article.