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  • Jolene

Living With a Stoma

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Hey there. We know that having a stoma is not easy but we hope that this guide, will help you to deal with the changes that you may have to make after your stoma surgery. We are happy to help if you need, so please reach out to us if you do.

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Planning to talk about your stoma

Only you can decide who you should tell about your stoma. Some people prefer keeping it within their circle of close friends, while others are happy to inform anyone. Remember, having a stoma does not change who you are. You are still the same person you were before surgery.

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Do I need different clothes?

Most ostomates can find suitable clothing in ordinary retail stores. More comfortable options are:

  1. High–waisted trousers for people who have a stoma at waist level

  2. High-waisted underwear

  3. Support garments to prevent or control a parastomal hernia

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Will I be able to return to my job?

Once you have fully recovered, there is no reason why should not return to work. Your doctor will advise you when you are fit enough to consider returning. They will also be able to talk to you about any adjustments that you might need to make. For example, if your work is strenuous, involves heavy lifting, or puts a strain on your abdominal muscles, they might suggest that you wear a support garment to lessen the risk of a parastomal hernia, or may be able to issue a memo for light duty work.

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Will my driving be affected?

You should wait until at least four weeks after your surgery before you start driving again to avoid putting pressure on the stoma. Having said that, having a stoma will not affect your driving ability. If you find the seat belt uncomfortable as it is strapped across your stoma, a soft small pillow can help to relieve the pressure between the belt and the stoma.

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Can I travel abroad?

Having a stoma should not prevent you from travelling. It is natural to feel a little apprehensive about this at first, but with planning and preparation, travelling can be easy and you can have peace of mind. Always ensure a complete set of stoma appliances are at hand in case of any emergencies while you are travelling.

Image from Vecteezy

Will it affect my sex life?

Most people with a stoma can enjoy a healthy sex life. Some ostomates feel more comfortable wearing attractive underwear. Mini–bags and stoma caps are also available options for such an occasion.

If the rectum is removed during stoma surgery:

  1. Some women may experience a different sensation, pain, or dryness in the vagina during intercourse. This can be helped by using a lubricant.

  2. Some men may have trouble in getting an erection. This can be successfully treated in 90% of cases.

Should you experience any problems, do not be embarrassed to discuss them with your surgeon or stoma care nurse.

We hope that this short and informative article can help you get acquainted with your stoma, and give you the confidence that you are no different from who you were before the surgery. Stay tuned for the next instalment of this series where we will discuss about the suitable diet and food to take!

- Written by Seettha

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