Building self confidence following stoma surgery

Building self confidence following stoma surgery

Straight after stoma surgery is a very difficult and conflicting time, it might have saved your life, or cured you, or made things much better in the long term, but it has also changed your body and your self esteem.

Accepting what has happened can be a long road, but one that has to be taken, otherwise your life will never be a happy one if you can’t get over having a stoma bag attached to your tummy.

I decided to write a blog and get my story out there, not everyone will want to open their life to being an ostomate with the world, but for me it has been a life changer.

Seeing others just like me was an eye opener, as I thought they were few and far between, and I was wrong. I joined lots of Facebook groups and then joined the Ileostomy association on the local committee, this meant I could help others too.

Being around other ostomates made me realise that I had no idea who had a stoma and who didn’t, so therefore people wouldn’t know if I had one unless I chose to tell them.

If I wear a dress I wear Sloggi underwear so the bag doesn’t flap in the wind, you can’t tell I have one. Swimwear comes in various designs, you can buy high waisted bottoms so that your stoma doesn’t show, or you can just let it all hang out and maybe cover the bag with a designed cover. Most people in this world now know about stomas, it is in the news and on TV so it isn’t a surprise to see someone on the beach and it isn’t something to shy away from.

Nothing can be seen inside the bag, no one really bothers. If you are self conscious you can wear a wrap when you go to the bar or toilet. No one needs to know if you don’t want them to, it is entirely under your control what you show and tell.

Practice trying different clothes on and take photos so you can see there is nothing showing, same with swimwear. Pamper yourself so that the rest of your body feels beautiful and you start to feel good about yourself.

I went for a exfoliating massage and I did feel a bit anxious beforehand, but I just told the girl to work around the bag, and all was well, whatever she was thinking I didn’t know about it, yes it could have been disgust but it could equally have been awe and intrigue. I will never know so why bother worrying about it?

Most people that I have told my story to think It’s inspirational (I don’t but it is nice to be told that) and that I am brave, I will take that, so whatever you think people are thinking, you are probably wrong most of the time, the others are not worth your time for worrying.

Respect yourself and what you have been through, and realise how beautiful you are even with your scars and flaws, majority of folk hate something about themselves anyway so they are far too busy worrying about their own self issues than what you have that is different.

  • Hi, great article & comments too. I'm 5mths post APR VRAM flap & end colostomy. I'm only now building the courage to talk & accept it. I have loads of questions & don't seem to be getting the answers. Like, what clothes to buy / wear? Where to get knickers & supports etc.? How long before you can exercise? Also where to get those fancy looking bags. Sorry this is a bit overwhelming.

  • Thank you for your story. I'm only 6 months post op so still getting used to it. My first brave act was getting in the hot tub with other people (albeit family members) I just wore loose fitting shorts over my support knicks and a T shirt and had a towel close by but it felt so good to do something 'normal'. I'm feeling better everyday and I know I'll get there. 

  • So true ...a very hard 20 month's ...this wasn't meant to happen to me ..God bless you all x

  • I would add whether you getting ostomy surgery for first time or those who had ostomy for some time. I've had my colostomy & urostomy for over 50 years. We are more than our ostomy. We can do, be , live, and get back to those things we loved before having an ostomy.  

  • I would add that our stomas are usually better at choosing the right people to have in our lives than even we are. Many of us call them 'jerk-detectors'. lol