Whatever reason you may have for needing an ostomy, rest assured it’s more common than you think. There are three different types, all used for different conditions and ailments and each can be a lifesaver (literally!) for the user. Even after getting your head around stomas, pouches and aftercare, adjusting to life post ostomy can be a minefield. The advice can be plentiful but beware, there is plenty of misinformation around that can lead to further health difficulties.
Read on to discover what is fact and what is fiction for an easier transition into life with an ostomy.
1.Your bag will fall off
It’s sometimes difficult to believe your pouch will stay put all day (or hour, depending on the type you have) but they’re actually pretty secure. The one thing to note is that the skin around your stoma might get a little sore and dry from time to time. Try to resist the itch as you don’t want to make the skin worse. A good ostomy powder will help with this. Similar to talc, it absorbs moisture which will help your pouch stay in place.
2.Your bag will smell
This is the number one misconception around ostomies and bags. Everyone can get a little stinky at times and ostomy users are no different, however good hygiene and changing your pouch regularly should eliminate any unwanted smell, just like taking a shower. If you’re still worried there are some great odor neutralizers out there – kind of like a deodorant for your stoma. Just be careful to steer clear of any heavily perfumed deodorant you would use on the rest of your body or you’ll risk irritating the skin.
3.Exercise is over
It’s recommended to take it easy immediately after the surgery and no heavy lifting for the first few weeks but there is no reason to put off exercise once you’re feeling adjusted to your new stoma. Of course, check with a doctor before undertaking any new major lifestyle changes but remember that your ostomy is there to help your health not hinder it. Begin with some light yoga or pilates. Exercise is important for everyone to keep fit and strong so be careful not to let it fall by the wayside.
4.People will know you have an ostomy just by looking at you
Unless there’s someone out there with laser x-ray vision your pouch will go unnoticed under your clothes. Some people are proud of their pouches and don’t mind wearing bikinis or swimwear and having their bags visible. Others are a little shyer and prefer to hide it. Either way, as long as you’re comfortable then it doesn’t matter. Just be rest assured no one will know unless you choose to tell them.
5.It will put off a partner
Whether you’re single and searching, or in a committed relationship, your ostomy shouldn’t be an issue for others. There are plenty of ostomy users out there who have partners who don’t care about their bags. Partners of ostomy patients are just grateful that their loved ones can have a better quality of health and lifestyle. If the person you are with has an issue then that is their problem, not yours. We are all amazing in our own unique way and any person who is hesitant to be with you because of the bag is not worth it!
Do you have an ostomy? Comment any myth-busters you’d like your fellow stoma souls to know.