The terms ostomy, urostomy, colostomy, and stoma, are all words that many people have heard, but don’t really understand until they are faced with the reality of needing one.
For the most part, the diseases that involve our waste are generally kept quiet in our society. People are happy to be proud of you for a valiant recovery or long hospital stay, but once you recover, people just expect you to be better – because you look better. But can you?
The short answer is yes! Having an ostomy can be a life altering event, it can test our perseverance, mental wellbeing, and most definitely our relationships, but that is what makes us stronger and allows us to view life through a different lens. We are among the lucky. Many of us have been given a second chance.
I am one of the lucky. I have had the opportunity to look back on several surgeries and procedures and know that without them my life would have undoubtedly ended short. I think this can do two things to people. They will either think “that was a close call, I’d better be careful to never leave the comfort of my home again” or “I’ve been given a second, (or third!) chance at life, and I’m going to make the most of it!”
In most cases, I have chosen option two. I very quickly realized that an ileostomy wasn’t going to change my life much, and it seemed that I could easily adapt to the aspects it did alter. I wasn’t broken, I was fixed!
It was through this that I started a business named Inner Good (innergood.ca), a company that specializes in online ostomy, catheter, and wound supplies.
Over the past two years, Inner Good has written numerous blog articles surrounding the daily trials, but also the great achievements, of fellow ostomates.
Inner Good was created as a platform to promote the positive active lifestyle that I, and many other ostomates, have come to enjoy and encourage those who haven’t yet adapted. We want you to live life to the fullest. Here’s a few ways we propose to do that:
1. Adjust quickly to your new reality
Chances are you will have your new ostomy for some time. Physical healing will naturally happen over time. Mental wellbeing will require accepting that this ostomy, more than likely, saved your life and you should embrace it. There is no doubt that it will frustrate, embarrass, and create a wide array of emotions in the early days, but the sooner you can accept it and deal with the issues, the better your outlook and overall mental and physical health will be.
2. Do not accept problems with your ostomy appliances
I cannot tell you how many new ostomates I have met that accept leakage, skin issues, and other product challenges as normal. Upon discharge from the hospital make an appointment to see an enterostomal (ET) nurse. If you don’t already have one, or would prefer to visit one from the comforts of your home, InnerGood.ca has online chat sessions with certified ET nurses. Best of all, they are free to Inner Good customers! A visit to an ET can often change the course of your problem immediately – and don’t worry, they have seen and heard it all!
3. Get back to doing what you did prior to illness and surgery
Becoming more confident in your stoma adaptation skills, rejoining work, enjoying hobbies, or spending time with friends/family will allow you to focus on things other than your surgery or new appliance.
4. Join a local support group
With kid’s summer camps, young adult groups, and mixed age groups available, there is a group for you. Sometimes you need to hear and see that others have ‘made it through’. These groups often serve as a mentoring group for people preparing for surgery who want knowledge and support about the upcoming surgery. Post surgery, they are a great resource, as there is a wealth of knowledge and a great sense of comradery in the room. Of course, the GI Society excels at providing a safe place for people to come together to exchange knowledge and experiences through their regular events and support groups.
It is my great hope that wherever you are in life, that your day could be a bit brighter armed with the knowledge that there are others that have gone before you and there is a path forward – a life well lived.