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Taking the world on with an ostomy

Gemma Savory shares her tips on gaining confidence after ostomy surgery.

TAKING THE WORLD ON WITH AN OSTOMY

Leaving the protective bubble of the hospital after stoma surgery can leave you feeling scared and sap the little confidence that you had built up.

I can remember leaving the hospital with one hand over the left side of my stomach terrified of either my colostomy bag falling off in public or of anybody bumping into me and injuring my delicate friend.

And that’s where my hand stayed for about a month!

So, how did I get to a point where my ostomy started to feel a normal part of my life?

Well, as with most things time is a major healer. The more time that passed without incident, the more confident I felt being out and about and getting on with normal life. For me, it was important to get out of the house as soon as possible, which is why only 5 days out of hospital; I was at a party celebrating a family engagement. That’s not to stay that everyone could do that, I was lucky in that my operation at the time was just my colostomy and was done via keyhole, so I recovered fairly quickly.

Accept that you will have accidents. It is the scariest part of having a stoma – having minimal control over it. The first time I had an ‘accident’ I was devastated and mortified, if I look back to that time now, if really wasn’t a big deal and I learnt from it – I’m now better at timing my bag changes!

Feel good about what you’re wearing. Hey, you’ve just got through major surgery so congratulate yourself by purchasing a new wardrobe. After spending what felt like an eternity in pyjamas, it felt good for me to get back into clothes that I really liked. As time passes, I’m finding that there is not really many restrictions on what I can wear and that makes me happy!

Humour is your friend. There is nothing you can do to control the sweet music that toots from your stoma so the only thing you can do is laugh about it. I’ve spent many an hour entertaining friends with a noisy stoma.

Own your ostomy. This is a personal choice for me but I’ve chosen to embrace my new way of life and be open about it. Everyone I’ve told about my ostomy has been really positive towards me and that’s a great confidence booster.

And finally…

Realise that you are not alone. There are so many of us ostomates. Social media has been a great tool for me to connect with others who have experience with cancer, an ostomy or both. We all have our own back-stories and most importantly we all have each other’s backs.

Visit Gemma over at her blog site kickingcancerinthebutt.wordpress.com

If you would like to share your story with us, please email mail@eakin.co.uk