Your young. You have just been told you need to have a permanent stoma. Your life and your appearance are about to change. What do you do?
This is a question that has been asked of around 102,000 people in the UK. (that is 1 in 500) Naturally though, this figure includes temporary as well as permanent stomas. It is estimated that around 21,000 new stomas are formed each year. The US figures are higher, with 450,000 and 120,000 respectively.
The need for a stoma has no recognition of age …. A stoma may be needed by a baby as much as someone elderly, although the younger you are, the odds on it being temporary are increased.
Your scared. What do you do? how do you feel? who do you talk to? You may think you will be ugly with a stoma, you may think your friends will desert you, you may think that non fashionable clothing is all you will be able to wear, the list goes on.
This will probably be one of the biggest decisions you will make, and you may not think you will cope, so in this blog, I hopefully will put your mind at ease with some answers.
First off, look at those figures again. You are not alone. Every single person before you will have gone through exactly the same thoughts that you are having. Secondly, and more importantly, with only a small adjustment to your lifestyle, everything you did before is possible. Having a stoma should not prevent you from doing anything you did previously.
Let’s address a few questions that I have personally been asked in the past.
Nope. This is incorrect. A stoma was created through necessity. If your partner cannot accept this, then they are not worth having as a friend, let alone a partner! I remember an old girlfriend of mine saying that she no longer noticed the stoma pouch itself. I have also had relationships with ladies who have had a permanent stoma, and not once did it ever become a problem.
Again, this is not right. You can wear exactly what you want. Nothing there has changed. However, you may want to wear slightly looser clothing. There are websites around that sell clothing designed for an ostomate. These are pretty much the same as you would be used to, but may for example, have a “pocket” hidden away in which you can place your stoma pouch. I’ve brought boxer shorts and swimming trunks designed for an ostomate – nothing is on show, and they are comfortable and stylish.
This is the question asked the most, and is the easiest to answer – yes you can! You may think that you cannot socialise, but what is really stopping you? – before I had my stoma created, I could not go anywhere in case I messed myself, and as anyone will tell you, it’s not nice. Now, I can go anywhere without fear. I’ve flown abroad on holiday, attended concerts, gone on long country walks, got drunk with friends at the pub, and have lived my life the way I would have wanted to.
Having a stoma will not stop you doing anything at all once you are fully recovered and that is very important to understand. It will not shorten your life, nor will it will not stop you eating your favourite food. What it will do however, is make you pain free. it will give you a quality of life that I bet you forgot about, and you will have your health back.
Don’t just take my word for it, have a look at this short video I found on you-tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSP82XX10DM
We are all members of this great community of like-minded people, most will have a stoma, some may not, but one thing we all have in common is a wish to help, a wish to advise, but more importantly, a desire to listen. If you have a question, or a need to reach out, leave a comment below. We will all help where we can – please remember, we have all been there. We have all gone through what you are going through, and we understand how you feel.
Lastly, remember that having a stoma means you join an elite club of people whose members include Napoleon Bonaparte. You’re in good company!