Ostomy is always a tough topic to speak about because it is such a private matter. You may feel people don’t understand and worried to see how they will accept you. You may have concerns about how your social life may change. You don’t have to explain until you are comfortable explaining it. If your family and friends know you are going for surgery they have a general concern for you. They will ask questions and want to know how you are. You can provide them with as much or as little details as you are comfortable with. With that said, we are going to embrace some Ostomy matters you may face and how to tackle them.
Many factors can come into play here. Is it your pouch system? Could it be frequency of changing your pouch? Another aspect to look at is the preparation of the skin before applying your pouch. To target this issue; we need to see where the leak may be coming from and the consistency. If it’s the same area, check the area for any creases or uneven surfaces such as scar tissue, or incisions. Another area to check is your belly button which may cause an uneven surface under the barrier. A barrier ring as a filler to even out the surface area may be helpful. You also need to ensure that the stoma size is correct in this barrier. A correct fit is when the barrier fits where the skin and the stoma meet. There should be no skin exposure between the stoma and the opening of the barrier. This will eliminate any leaking.
Let’s be truthful here! We are all concerned with odor issues whether we have an Ostomy or not. We are self-conscious humans who are always thinking about these social dilemmas. Did I use deodorant today? Did I not wash this jacket? We have all been there. With an Ostomy, there can be an odor associated with emptying your pouch or odor caused by leakage. We need to find out which one it is first. Lubricating deodorants eases emptying and helps prevent pouch static and sticking. The deodorant neutralizes any odor. Another option is to consider a pouch that hasa filter. This neutralizes odor caused by gas in the pouch. Take care in the stool drainage to avoid getting anything on the outside of your closure system. Another situation could be that your barrier might be starting to lift off the skin. This can allow odor to escape and can be the beginning of a leakage.
It is stressful to think that someone may see your pouch balloon out and show through your clothing. With this circumstance, there are some excellent solutions so don’t worry too much. A pouch with a filter can help eliminate gas. Gas is a cause that may increase air which tends to puff up the pouch. Another suggestion would be to empty the pouch when it’s 1/3 to 1/2 full. It comes down to the right pouch for your body. There are some pouches you may want to consider that have one or two piece systems. The options are endless with drainable and closed-end pouches in various lengths. There are also options of transparent, ultra-clear and beige pouch films. You may want to speak to your healthcare professional about your specific requirements. Rest assured there is a solution specific for you and your needs and concerns.
Live your life! Every day something arises, but it should not discourage you. You may have worries about diet, exercise and even intimacy with an Ostomy. Your doctor may tell you that you can go back to your regular diet after surgery. You may have an idea of what foods trigger gas, diarrhea, constipation, incomplete digestion or urine odor. This will also be the same after this surgery. You may make a decision to avoid them during certain times so you won’t be self-conscious. A good rule would be to test them out when you are home or in a comfortable environment.
Exercise is encouraged. It is important to speak to your healthcare provider on this front. Rough sports may be out, but weight lifting may be okay depending on your healing process. Your provider might recommend a device to support your abdomen when lifting weights. If you are into running, swimming or other athletic activity that could loosen your Ostomy bag and cause a leak, use a special belt or binder to hold your Ostomy bag in place. Again your provider can recommend the best products to suit your activity needs.
Getting back to intimacy can be nerve-racking. First you have to recover from surgery and get doctor clearance. After that you should be able to continue with sex again after your Ostomy. Take your return to intimacy slowly. Some tips would be to empty and clean your Ostomy pouch. You also want to check the seal to make sure it's tight. If you are looking to conceal your pouch, you can try an opaque pouch or a pouch cover. Lingerie and cummerbunds made to conceal a pouch or hold it in place are available. You can check with your medical supplier who provides Ostomy products.
These are a few topics that we covered on living with your Ostomy. It takes time and you will be able to do the same activities you enjoyed before your surgery. Don’t let worrying get the best of you. As time goes on, you will have the confidence to enjoy more social and work settings. Get out there and don’t let anything hold you back – you will be happy you did.