Below are some of the most commonly asked questions before or after ostomy surgery. Please remember to ask your doctor, surgeon or WOCN nurse about any topics that might be a concern of yours. Having confidence in your surgery and knowing whats ahead of you will make the recovery and adjustment much easier.
1. Will I be able to continue with my normal daily activities?
Yes. After surgery you’ll be able to eat the normal foods that you did before you received an ostomy. If you have an ileostomy you will need to drink more fluids through out the day, in order to stay hydrated. If you don’t have any unexpected problems, you should be able to resume a normal lifestyle. You’ll notice an improvement in the quality of life in many areas since your body will not be fighting you IBD as much.
2. Will I be able to have a normal active lifestyle such as skiing, swimming, climbing, exercising, etc?
Yes, you’ll be able to live a normal active lifestyle. Many ostomates go on to do all the activities they loved and more now that they feel better after the surgery. You’ll be able to look forward to a normal lifestyle with swimming, skiing, hiking, traveling and more. It won’t come without some work though, you’ll need to plan ahead more and prepare for all possible situations, such as leaks or changes if necessary. If you take part in active and contact sports, you can purchase protective devices in order to cover your stoma.
3. What foods can I eat? Will my diet have to drastically change?
Some changes in your diet might be needed, but you should be able to go back to a normal diet. In time you’ll find the diet that works for you and the food that does or doesn’t digest well. When having an ostomy it’s very important to chew your food very well and follow it with as much liquid as possible in order to avoid a blockage or obstrution. Some foods are harder to digest then others, ileostomy patients should try to stay away from high fiber foods that could block their stoma.
4. What about pills? Can I take medications or vitamins?
Some pills that have a time release formula may pass through the system of a ileostomy patient to quickly to digest. Always remind your doctor when being put on a new medication and ask how it digests in the system. Most vitamins will be fine to take.
5. Will the clothes I wore before surgery still fit okay? What about sports wear, bathing suits, belts, etc?
Most people are able to wear their clothes from before their surgery. Shortly after the surgery you might be afraid to wear a belt and other constricting accessories that might go over the stoma. This will depend on the area your stoma is. Tight clothing will not injure the stoma, but might take getting used too. When wearing tight clothing you need to watch your ostomy more since it can make it harder for fecal matter to fill the ostomy bag without causing a leak. Swimwear for both men and women are available to help cover and support an ostomy.
6. How long will my appliance last before needing to change it?
This will vary greatly on make factors and lifestyle. Most ostomy appliances will lat 3 to 7 days, but its not uncommon for them to last fewer or longer as well. In time you’ll learn how long your ostomy usually will last and when to change it to avoid a leak.
7. How many bathroom trips will I be making daily with my ostomy?
This will depend on many factors such as what you eat, how much you drink and how your body adjusts to the surgery. Colostomy patients might be able to empty their ostomy as little as two times a day. Most are around 4-6. Ileostomy patients have to empty it more since they don’t intake as much fluid and their output is much softer.
8. Is there a correct way that I should be emptying my ostomy bag?
Their is no right or wrong way to empty your ostomy and you’ll find what method works best for you. You’ll also be show how to empty it in the hospital after your surgery. Always make sure that after emptying your ostomy that its closed completely to avoid leaks.
9. I’m nervous about odor from the bag, will this be something I have to deal with?
With the technology that they ostomy appliances are made of now, you won’t be able to notice an odor. When emptying the ostomy you’ll notice the odor does change depending on what you’ve eaten, but when shut it shouldn’t have an odor. If this is something that you will worry about ask your doctor or appliance provider for ways to hide odors.
10. What about showering with my stoma? Will anything hurt the ostomy?
You’ll be able to shower like a normal person. When changing your ostomy some ostomate like to shower with it off at that time to give the skin a break and clean the area as much as possible. Exposure to air or contact with soap and water will not harm the stoma. If you have an ileostomy, choosing a time of the day when you haven’t eaten much before usually makes it easier to change since there will be less output. Stay away from scented soaps as they make it hard for the adhesive to stick and will result in an ostomy lasting a short time period.
Never Stay Quiet!