Fighting frustration with an ostomy bag

Saleem Juma
Saleem Juma
We say that our lives won’t change, and we’ll be able to do the exact same things as we could before. While that’s a very important goal to strive for, we must also remember to take it easy on ourselves.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finished my workout at 3 AM. I’ve gotten my cardio done, my abs and my weight lifting and I’m feeling GOOD! I get in my car, head home, jump in the shower for a bit and I’m ready to catch some Zzz’s. Solid plan yeah?

WRONG!

I notice a small pull tear in my waterproof seal; just a tiny one, not small enough that I can cut off the affected part and reseal it with a new piece, but not so big a tear that it’s literally falling off. I sigh because I know I have to replace it anyway, even the smallest tear or break in the seal can screw up my entire pouching system. I stay up another hour shaving all the relevant regions, taking a shower and cleaning everything and then making sure I complete the rather painstaking process of my frankly complex system.

I have to do this every 2 days with the way I work out, it started happening after my most recent surgery. Since I have a massive scar running down where my belly button used to be (they took that out too), I have to cut my pouches in a much different way than they used to go on and the way the sweat sneaks in there while I’m working out. Well let’s just say I deal with a lot of bag changes.

How do you fight that frustration EVERY SINGLE NIGHT when you’re ready to go to bed and you just want to curl up under your blankets and you have to change your dang bag again? Well, there’s no easy answer for this believe me I’ve searched.

So, I started incorporating things like meditation into my day, I started incorporating therapy with a Psychologist to deal with excess anger and bitterness. I started communicating properly with people instead of holding all of my feelings in. The frustration of the bag is just a symptom of a deeper cause, the frustration of having a disability and having to go about your day and thinking that nobody really understands what you’re going through.

I write a lot of technical articles that have practical advice you can apply to both your Ostomy and having Colitis/Crohns Disease in general to improve your quality of life; but with this one I wanted to take a step back and look at the mental aspects and emotional toughness that it takes to deal with having an Ostomy.

We say that our lives won’t change, and we’ll be able to do the exact same things as we could before. While that’s a very important goal to strive for, we must also remember to take it easy on ourselves. We may not be able to do exactly what we did before, compete at levels that we were able to do before. I don’t say this to disparage people but to protect, if I tried to compete with my trainer and push myself past my new limits in the gym I might seriously injure myself, rip something important or even get a hernia!

This goes for the mental and emotional stuff too, most of my articles are focused on “pushing yourself” and constantly “having that fire in your belly”; but we ALL need to remember that sometimes it pays off big time to just relax. If you don’t take those days for just yourself, you risk damaging yourself emotionally. Burning out can cause just as much damage as tearing something physically, believe me I know. I never thought I’d get to the point where I burned out annnnnd when it finally happened…. I sat in my room for days like a zombie and just didn’t care about what was happening. It took a long time and a lot of work to bust me back out of that depression and now I realize how important your mental and emotional health really are.

Cheers and stay smiling 

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