First Steps in Living with a Colostomy :
Having extreme abdominal surgery, cancer or other severe illness can be hard enough on a body and spirit. Finding out you need a colostomy or ostomy can make things feel even more devastating. Some people have to learn to make the adjustment to this new facet of their life. However, in many cases, it may not be a permanent condition. While you do have the stoma and colostomy, you will have to adapt your life to some changes. But it doesn’t mean you have to give up your life to do it.
Time & Supervision- When you first get home after invasive surgery that included a colostomy, you’ll need to give your body time to recover and adjust. As you learn to use your colostomy bags and tend to the stoma (the opening created on your side or abdomen so waste can still come out), you may benefit from having a nurse or therapist come in to help guide you through the process, check on the stoma, and make sure you keep up your exercise. They and your doctor can help you through the do’s and don’ts – what you can eat, whether you can do certain athletics, how to best sleep with a bag on, etc.
Connect & support – It’s important to connect and support to the people in your life after such a difficult surgery. Many people, though, are embarrassed about having a colostomy. Since we’re young, we tend to be taught that body waste is not something openly discussed – at least not our own. It is something you have to decide how to handle should any one ask how you are, or what type of operation you had. There’s no need to give details if you prefer not to, but it can only help spread awareness and remove misconceptions if you do. It is important to not hide from social activities because of your new condition. Human interaction and support will help you heal not just your body, but your spirit.
Learning to live with a colostomy can be trying, and can create anxiety. With patience, understanding, support from friends and loved ones, and a good sense of humor, you’ll be able to enjoy almost everything you did before.
“To be alive is to totally and openly participate in the simplicity and elegance of here and now”
– Donald Altman