Life with an ostomy is not much different from what one has without it, but it definitely takes time to adjust and several times psychological 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
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!
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?
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:
When can I start driving again?
You’re completely ready to get behing 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?
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
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.
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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.
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 haven’t 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.