How friends and family can help after stoma surgery

Clare Mee
Clare Mee
It can be hard to ask for help after surgery, and for family and friends it is hard to know how to help a loved one during their recovery. Clare Mee shares some tips for both sides from her own experience.

I am definitely one of the lucky ones who have fabulous friends and family that helped me through the pitfalls of life changing surgery, but some people don’t know how to help or what to do. 

For those supporting a loved one

There are many ways to help with recovery, particularly mentally, and one great way is not to leave out the person who has had surgery. If a group is going for a coffee, check that they can come too and if not, have it at home this time where they will feel more comfortable and confident.  Don’t worry if you get turned down, your loved one will have appreciated being asked, they might just not feel up to it yet.

As a friend or family member it is also important to stay positive for your loved one after stoma surgery, let them know how well they are doing.

It would also be great if you check up on family members too.  They are going through a tough time and may need just as much support too.  That is why things like offering lifts, meals and cleaning can mean the world at that time.

My friends took my children to various places for us and it was such a help, and they came round and gave my home a tidy up too!

These practical ways of helping can help with recovery too, as it takes away the worry of all the small things that need taken care of and the focus can be on getting better.

For those who have had surgery

Your family will be trying to get you up and about as soon as possible because they will then feel happier that you are getting back to normal, but please let them know when you have had enough and need to go to bed for a lie down. It can take months to fully recover.

Try not to keep things bottled up; if you have any concerns about your recovery or stoma then tell your family. It might not be normal to have that particular issue and it may need sorting sooner rather than later.

Let others help you with your stoma if you are struggling to get the right fit of the bag, or having skincare issues. They won’t mind!  My husband helped me with cutting the pouches at first and once they are familiar with your routine they can understand any issues.

Make use of sites like A Bigger Life to ask other questions about daily life and see how well others are doing, which will help you see your future. I know that if you are struggling in the early months you view the future with trepidation, and it is difficult to see the bigger picture.  Having those links with ostomates who are out the other side is a massive boost.

Let your friends and family in, they can’t help if you don’t tell them how you are feeling. Rest assured they will want to help and won’t like seeing you upset. Take any help that is offered, they wouldn’t do it if they didn’t want to. Picture yourself in their shoes- you know that you would willingly do the same for them.

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