Almost a million Americans live with an ostomy, which is a procedure that can save your life, which allows for bodily waste to pass through an opening within your abdomen, into an ostomy pouch. It’ll be necessary when treating UC, cancers of the bladder or colon where removal happens, chron’s disease, and of course injury or obstruction to the urinary tract or bowels which can’t be fixed.
Though it is common, it does make people feel the pressure of changes. Some people live with this though, big and small, and there are a lot of misconceptions to this. Here are some of the common ones to consider.
Everyone Knows I’ve Had one
If you’re wondering whether or not the ostomy bag is noticeable is a big problem, and many people will know if you decide to tell them. But, they’re a personal choice.
They are designed however, to be hidden under most clothing, and they come in many sizes and types so you can get one which fits the lifestyle you desire. With hundreds of thousands of Americans living with this, just know that you’re not alone in this either.
This is a Permanent condition
They’re not necessarily always permanent. If you have IBS for example, this is often something that’s used to help with the small intestine, giving it time to heal once surgery is finished. The temporary ostomies can be removed surgically at a later stage and date, and the more permanent ones are typically performed only when parts of your large intestine are removed.
Whether your ostomy is permanent or not, you should definitely consider connecting with others to work through these new changes in a confident manner, since it can help you with improving on this too.
The Bags always Smell Bad
While this may have been true in the past, technology has come a long way, so there shouldn’t be a reason as to why your pouch may smell, and you should only notice it really when changing or emptying the bag. There are odor control products that you may want to use, and you can also use a room odor eliminator to help with the unpleasant smells too.
I’ll Be Stuck on My Diet for the Rest of My Life
With ostomies, you need to have a special diet. While there might be a few small adjustments that’ll need to be taken, once the stoma is healed, you can have the same food that you did before. This isn’t a specific diet, but a balanced healthy diet is much recommended. You should consider while healing to avoid anything with cellulose, which means that nuts, raw fruits and veggies, and dried fruit should be avoided. You can talk with your doctor however on how to accommodate for this in a way that benefits you, so you’re not missing out.
Flying and traveling Will be Hard
This is a big one people worry about, but having a stoma is no reason for you to just stay at home and never travel again. Long journeys may be feared because you’ll need to find a clean place to empty the pouch, and you may not have the supplies. The key to this is to try and plan ahead, and anticipate the challenges.
Being well-prepared, packing all of your ostomy supplies that you’ll need, and having access to them will make the journey much easier.
One concern of course is that your stoma will expand during the flight. While it doesn’t burst, it’s usually just bubbly cause of something you eat. You can always change and empty the bag. Always keep your ostomy supplies near you.
Living with an ostomy is hard, but if you’re able to figure out how to live in this fashion, you’ll be happier in the future.