Office working with a stoma

Office working with a stoma

I’ve had my permanent ileostomy for 13 years now, and in all that time, apart from the recovery period, have worked throughout.

I’ve always been office based (customer support sector), but this has meant that casual clothing is disallowed, and that, for me, means a strict shirt & tie affair. This has led to problems for me with leaks and constant adjusting. I also often work long hours, a 6.30am to 7.30pm working day is not unusual, 7 days a week. This also creates strange dietary requirements, so I thought this month, I would discuss the problems I’ve encountered and the solutions I have come up with.

I live alone, and don’t really socialise as such. Since my divorce, I’ve become a bit of a loner. This does mean though that I’m always available for overtime, and as my company has lots to offer, I tend to make the most of it.

The first problem I have at work is with clothing.  My stoma is right on my belt-line, and sitting down will naturally pull trousers downwards slightly. I’ve had flanges literally ripped off skin before. I’ve solved this problem by wearing elasticated waist trousers. These are expensive (for a decent pair), but worth it. Since wearing them, I’ve not had a problem, although they don’t last as long as a “normal” pair of trousers.

Another problem with clothing is that I wear shirts, and any leak will very quickly show through. Clearly there is little I can do about this other than having a replacement shirt with me along with spare stoma equipment. Mercifully though, leaks are rare, but when they happen, they are pretty dramatic!

Working the long hours that I do has a knock-on effect with my eating habits. Everyone is different, but for me, I can’t eat past 8.00pm or else I have an uncomfortable night’s sleep constantly thinking I need to empty.  So, at the weekend when I have time, I cook several meals at once. These are then placed in food grade bags, have the air taken out and resealed.

To avoid missing an evening meal, I have mine at lunchtime at work. This works well for me, as I will only need something light in the evening, thus hopefully having a good night’s sleep!

I have spare pouches at work should I need to change there.  We have quite a large bathroom at work, so I have plenty of space to move around,  but my problem is disposal of the used pouch. I can place it in the bins at work, but I really don’t like doing this as I consider it could stay in the waste bin all day, and thus start smelling, even if double bagged. Instead, I take it home where I have a clinical waste collection weekly.

All in all, I suppose I can consider myself fortunate that I am office based, and have a toilet on hand at all times should I need it. The situation would be completely different if for example, I was a bus driver. I’d be interested to hear from others who are not office based and are “out and about” all day to see how they manage.  Leave a comment on the post to share your experience.

  • Your as good for putting all this down to share with everyone. Its nice that people can relate to or maybe share their experiences too. Everyone’s working day can be so different with routines, diet etc but it’s lovely to hear what a day in the life for you is like with challenges and how you have overcome them. It struck to mind that you can experience problems with the flange at the trouser line and your restricted to the elastic ages trousers. Do you wear some sort of support garment?? I do believe that a medium support may be a great way for you to feel in control. A hernia support garment would ensure your stoma is supported and affixed to the skin well and not irritated by the trouser line. If you haven’t already given this a go, I would really encourage you to try one.  Good on you with batch cooking and organising your meals approximately for your comfort and good nights rest. It’s been lovely to hear your story, hopefully we can hear others down the line too. Thanks Andy.