Ostomy

Life with an ostomy after surgery & returning home

Living with Stoma

Life with a stoma is not much different from what one has without it, but it definitely takes time to adjust and several times support from your environment.

In any case, the body needs about three months to recover after colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy operation. During this time many people suffer from depression and there the help and support from their own people is extremely important.

But as you will discover later, the stoma is the key to continuing your life as before, leaving behind all the problems you had without it. So let’s see what everyday life is like after ostomy surgery and why you have nothing to fear.

Table Of Contents

How can I adapt psychologically to the new situation?

I know that at first everything looks like climbing a mountain. The stoma makes your body look and work differently, and there will be times when you find it difficult to deal with. You may feel angry that you have a stoma, and think that you will never live a “normal” life. Please, don’t be afraid, it is not like that at all.

First of all, it is common and perfectly normal to feel disgusted when dealing with the secretions of your stoma. Most people are not used to having such close contact with their bodily functions, so it may take some time for you to adjust. But it will be done!

Your partner may also feel upset and emotionally charged about everything that happens to you. Sometimes your partner may even be more concerned than you are, and may also need time to adjust and your support. You will get over it together!

So, after you return home and during the first few weeks, it is normal that all you will think about is the stoma and if it will always be like this. Depending on the reasons that led to the ostomy surgery, you may have mood swings, or you may sometimes feel melancholy for no apparent reason.

At this stage it is important to talk to someone you are comfortable with to help you deal with the situation. Even if you haven’t had emotional problems in the past, you may still have a problem with managing your emotions now, so don’t necessarily try to handle it on your own.

Talk to your doctor, Traumacare nursing staff or someone with a stoma who will understand how you are feeling and can advise you on how to tackle these issues. If you cannot find the right person to talk to, don’t give up. There are many people more than wiling to help you out there, and remember that you deserve it!

Don't hesitate to call us for any problem encountered with your stoma.
Traumacare is always by your side providing advice and all the ostomy materials you will need for a better quality of life.

If you are at the beginning of this journey, everything can seem blue. But I promise you that as time goes on, you will get familiar with your stoma and on top of that, you will love the possibilities it offers you.

Stoma and recovery period

When you return home, you may feel tired during the first weeks and you should get used to rest in the afternoon. Try to avoid staying awake all day, as this can make not being able to sleep at night.

When you want to start exercising again, start smoothly, for example, with a daily walk or relaxed swimming. If you don’t exercise, but would like to start doing housework again, start with easy chores and take frequent breaks. Of course, avoid lifting heavy objects, as your abdomen has become more sensitive due to the stoma.

In other words, in a few weeks your body will be fully adapted to the new situation. All it takes is a little patience.

Why do I still feel the rectum?

The phenomenon of still having a sense of the rectum is similar to the phenomenon experienced by people who have undergone some form of amputation, where the amputated limb feels as if it is still present.

If you feel your bowel movements as before surgery, this is normal. This can still happen for years after surgery.

If the rectum has not been removed, you are more likely to experience this sensation or there may also be discharge when you are on the toilet. In fact, several people who have had their rectum removed have reported that the sensation is greatly relieved only if they sit in the toilet seat, as they felt as if there was bowel movement.

Can I take a bath or shower normally?

Stoma pouches are completely waterproof so you will not have any problems with the shower or the bath. However, if you enjoy hot water, the high heat can affect the adhesion of the flange to the skin, whether you are wearing a self-adhesive stoma bag or a two-piece system.

When bathing wearing your stoma bag, it is a good idea to close the filter to maintain its effectiveness. On the other hand, if you choose to bathe without your bag, there is a chance that you will experience uncontrolled stool leakage.

Finally, it is advisable to avoid using products in the area, such as normal shower gels. Common shower gels leave the skin oily, making it harder for the flange to attach to the skin, which of course can cause possible irritation. That is why it is always better to choose products with neutral pH, without fragrance and dyes.

Can I go swimming in the pool or sea?

Of course. Since bathing at home is not a problem, you can just as easily go for a swim, either in the pool or at the sea, wearing your stoma bag normally without the fear of leaks or other accidents. This is, after all, a very typical example why living with an ostomy is not an obstacle but a solution to the problems you faced before.

colostomy & sea

Can I do sports again?

Exercising and maintaining a healthy and energetic lifestyle is not incompatible with having a stoma!

The ostomy is actually the means for your complete recovery and will help you regain your self-confidence. However, you should start exercising gradually so that you don’t burden your stoma too much, especially immediately after your surgery.

Recommended sports are swimming, cycling, hiking, skiing and horse riding. However, avoid sports that stress on the abdominal muscles, like weightlifting, rowing and martial arts, as you may hurt your stoma. Of course you will choose the type of sport you like, even if it is scuba diving!

Just to be sure, a colostomy belt will be extremely useful for protecting your stoma in sports activities.

What should I know before making a trip?

Having an ostomy will not prevent you from traveling but will instead help you do so. You just will need a better preparation for a smooth trip without problems

When you decide to travel for the first time after your surgery, remember to be careful. Start by leaving for a weekend or visit a familiar place, where you will be able to relax and feel completely safe.

Besides the main objective of this first trip is to strengthen your self-confidence! The following simple guidelines will help you go on holiday wherever you want without problems:

  • Make sure you have medical insurance, which covers pre-existing diseases
  • Make sure that the toilet facilities in your accommodation are suitable.
  • Plan the best occasion to empty your ostomy bag or change the adhesive bag
  • If you are planning a long vacation, send your stoma supplies to your destination in advance or arrange delivery while you are there
  • Get extra bags that can be emptied in case of diarrhea
  • The mini bags are suitable for swimming and sunbathing. Most stoma pouches also have a mini version
  • If you travel by plane, split your ostomy supplies between your hand luggage and your suitcase to avoid problems in case of loss. During the fight you should avoid alcohol and carbonated beverages and continue to drink plenty of water. To avoid flatulence, eat yogurt daily and avoid foods that cause flatulence before flying.
  • If the drinking water of the area you are visiting is not safe, you should also avoid salads and ice in drinks
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When can I start driving again?

You’re completely ready to recapture the wheel when you feel comfortable with turbulence or sudden braking without being hassled by the abdominal muscles or your stoma. This can take up to eight weeks.

For more security, the first time you drive again, prefer to travel a short distance or ask another experienced driver to come with you just in case you encounter a problem.

If you are still concerned about this, please consult your doctor.

Can I wear whatever clothes I want?

Yes! Initially it would be good to discuss clothing preferences with your doctor before surgery. If the surgery was an emergency or the location of your stoma was not predetermined before the operation, it’s not the end of the world but you may need to make some small adjustments to the way you dress due to the abdomen area.

However, immediately after surgery, you may initially feel more comfortable with loose clothing as your abdomen will be swollen and you may still feel some pain. This will gradually subside over the first few months, but after that you will be able to start wearing the type of clothes you want, as the stoma bag will be completely covered by your clothes.

You may also feel a little embarrassed about the bag the first time you go out, but do not worry because it is perfectly normal! In time and as you return to your normal lifestyle, this feeling will disappear. Again, wearing an ostomy belt will make you feel more secure.

clothes, underwear & swimwear for colostomy, ileostomy & urostomy

So even though there are special clothes for ostomy, you don’t say goodbye to tight clothes if this is your style but only for a while. At the same time, although there are also underwear and ostomy swimsuits, it is not necessary that you need them.

Remember that there is always the ideal mini ostomy bag for you that will give you the ability to wear whatever you want without revealing anything.

If you are not satisfied with the colostomy, ileostomy or ureterostomy bag you are using, you can always try something else for free.

Just fill in your details and we will contact you immediately or call us for more information.

Get free samples of colostomy & ileostomy bags and products through EOPYY



    I have been invited to dinner, a meeting, a party. What should I do?

    The quality of the stoma bags is such that nothing is visible and there are no odors and no risk of leakage. The bags close securely sealing what is inside. To feel more comfortable, however, it is best to avoid foods that cause flatulence and to always have extra materials with you, such as a stoma bag, wipes, and a garbage bag.

    Especially if you are using irrigation by gravity, you can use a stoma cap.

    When can I return to work?

    There is no reason why your ostomy should prevent you from working unless your doctor tells you to. Before returning to work, think about practical things.

    For example, think about how to make the changes or empty your bag in the toilets of the workplace. The time and equipment you will need and of course if there is a specific toilet that would be better to use (such as the one that may be bigger or have a door hanger or a shelf, a window, or just less used).

    If the journey from home to work is long, check if there are toilets available that you can use to empty your bag, if necessary. This way you will not have unpleasant surprises or worries and therefore you will not be stressed.

    Also, think about whether you want to talk about your ostomy to your co-workers and to whom, as no one but your employer needs to know if you don’t want to tell them. The decision is yours alone.

    If you are worried about your performance, discuss with your employer if you can return for a part-time start. Begin working only in the morning or only in the afternoon or only certain days of the week. Talk to your employer to find out what works best for both of you. However, most people are able to fully return to work within 3 months, depending on the stoma surgery and their profession.

    In any case, talk to your doctor and make sure that your work duties are compatible with your stoma(if physical effort is required, if the workplace is special, etc.).

    Do I need to adjust my medication?

    In general, the coated tablets or capsules can be discarded whole in the bag. In most cases, this means that you have not taken the medicine.

    If you notice this, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. There may be other medicines you can use to make sure they work in your body. Liquid or gel medicines tend to be absorbed faster and may be better for you.

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