Adjusting to life with a Stoma

The days after stoma surgery can be challenging. You have a pouch attached to your abdomen and lots of new things to learn. It's important to remember that it takes time to adjust, but it will get easier. With support from your stoma care nurse and practical guidance on how to change your ostomy pouch and care for your skin, you should soon be able to do the things you’ve always done.

In this section, you’ll find information that is intended to guide you as you become used to your stoma, up to the first 3 months after surgery. As well as information on managing your stoma, you’ll find helpful tips, keeping your skin healthy and other aspects of getting used to your stoma. 

Getting used to your stoma

What will the stoma look and feel like after surgery? What will the stoma look and feel like after surgery? When you wake up after the operation you’ll be wearing your first pouch. This will probably be a clear one so that your nurses can check on your new stoma easily. The days after stoma surgery
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How does it look after surgery?

When you wake up after the operation you’ll be wearing your first pouch. This will probably be a clear one so that your nurses can check on your new stoma easily. You may also have drips and drains attached to your body. This is perfectly normal and they will be removed with very little discomfort when appropriate.

Your stoma
Your stoma will be moist and pinkish-red in colour and should protrude from your abdomen. It may be quite swollen to begin with but will reduce in size over time – usually 6 to 8 weeks after surgery. A stoma is red in colour.  This is because it is a mucous membrane, just like the mucous membrane inside your mouth. There is no sensation in the stoma, so it is not at all painful to touch.  The stoma can bleed a little when being cleaned, especially in the beginning, but this is quite normal, and should stop shortly afterwards.

Your stoma will begin to work shortly after your operation, usually within a few days. At first the output will be a watery liquid and may be strong-smelling as your bowel hasn’t been working for a while. Don’t worry, though, the consistency will thicken slightly and the smell will diminish as you resume a more balanced diet. Your doctor will advise you when you will be able to eat and drink as usual.

Initially, it’s also likely that a certain amount of noisy wind will come from the stoma – again this is perfectly normal. It is not uncommon to feel the need to go to the toilet as you did before. This is normal and should reduce with time. If your anus is still present there may be some mucus discharge from it.

Urostomy
If you have a urostomy, the stoma will begin to work immediately after your operation. The tubes placed in the urostomy will be left in place for seven to ten days. At first, your urine may be tinged red, but it will soon return to its usual colour.

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Taking good care of your stoma Taking good care of your stoma Keeping the skin around your stoma in good condition is the most important thing you can do to make life with a stoma pouch secure, comfortable and worry-free. Healthy stoma
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Taking good care of your stoma

It is important to keep the skin around your stoma healthy. Contact between stoma output and skin causes skin irritation that then affects how well the adhesive on the appliance sticks to your body. This creates a vicious circle of more leakage and even more irritated skin.

 

Keep your skin healthy
These six steps will help you keep your skin healthy: 

  1. Make sure your skin is clean and completely dry before applying the adhesive
  2. Adjust the hole in the adhesive so that it exactly fits around your stoma
  3. Make sure that there is full contact between the adhesive and your skin – use a bit of light pressure with your hand
  4. Change your appliance as soon as you feel any discomfort or itching
  5. Check the size of the stoma regularly, especially if you have a hernia
  6. Make sure to use the stoma appliance and accessories most appropriate for your body profile 

Use the right type of appliance
If you have concerns that your appliance is not providing a secure enough fit for your stoma and body shape, it is always advisable to check with your stoma care nurse first. There are many different types of stoma appliances available, so you might have to try a few to find the perfect product for you. 

You can choose between different pouch sizes, application systems, colours, adhesive types and many other features to suit your lifestyle.

See the product finder for more details.

Use the right accessories
Coloplast also offers a wide range of accessories available to make wearing a stoma pouch even more comfortable. These can help improve sealing, prevent skin problems and reduce smell.

You can see more detailed instructions on changing and draining a stoma pouch in our instructional videos.

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How do I learn about my managing my stoma? How do I learn about my managing my stoma? Your stoma care nurse will explain how to take care of your stoma while you’re still in hospital. There’s a lot of information to take in, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Taking care of your stoma
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Becoming confident with your stoma

After your operation, your stoma care nurse will focus on helping you become confident in taking care of your stoma. It will help to have a close relative or spouse with you for this training.

Your nurse will help you with:

Ask questions
There will be a lot of new information to take in at once; it may even feel a bit overwhelming. Take your time and ask all the questions you need, as many times as you need to. The more you ask and try things out, the better prepared you will be once you are back at home.


Before you leave hospital, your stoma care nurse will make arrangements for a follow-up consultation to make sure you feel confident caring for your stoma.

Overcoming challenges
Once you are home, you may experience some challenges caring for your stoma. But remember that your stoma care nurse, as well as Customer Care will be more than happy to help you with any issues.

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Coping with the day-to-day Stoma routine

Ken Stoma Skin Care When I first became the owner of a stoma (which I named ‘It’) three years ago, I was really concerned about how my skin would cope with being covered by the adhesive layer and baseplate. Read more

I was careful to apply barrier cream and anything that was recommended to assist in the care of that area of skin. The baseplate had a tendency to come detached in those days which does cause us all so much stress and embarrassment. My skin was also very sore and patchy especially close to my stoma.

On changing from a one piece bag to a two piece system I was determined to start my regime again from scratch and see if I could establish the reason for the problems I was experiencing. I determined to change my baseplate at the slightest sign of a tingle (I'm sure you know what I mean) even if the baseplate seemed fine. A good quality adhesive remover used copiously was always part of a careful removal of the baseplate. The emphasis being to be as gentle as possible to my skin by supporting it as the adhesive gave way. Secondly I only used soap and water to clean my skin and showered with old ’It’ naked as nature intended when changing  the baseplate. Using a stoma cup helps to get in and out of the shower without ' incidents' and only dry wipes to dry the skin before applying the baseplate ensures an additive free skin surface.

To my great delight that regime resulted in my skin healing really well and virtually no incidents of the baseplate ’letting go‘. On the occasion when that happens now I can usually put it down to my mistake. Having the baseplate on too long when I've been very active is mostly the reason. I have continued looking after my skin around my stoma in this way for the past couple of years and I'm content with it. I suspect we all have different skin types but for me this simple formula is perfect and keeps me free of 'stoma worries'.

One of my biggest skin problems generally since ’It‘ is that of dry flaky patches on my face and legs. I generally had put this down to inadequate hydration of my skin for whatever reason. Because we do not have the water which would normally be extracted from food in our colon there is a natural shortfall in our hydration, I'm informed. It's been recommended to me that I should drink about 2 ½ to 3 litres of water a day. I’m able to achieve this by sipping often during the day. I find that when I do this, and also use a moisturiser on the effected parts, my skin returns to normal. I also take a good quality omega3 fish oil capsule daily.

I find it difficult to consume that amount of water in a day. I do drink a fair amount of tea so I have been drinking organic decaf tea for a couple of years. The majority of decaf tea has the caffeine removed chemically which leaves residues in the tea which in turn upset my system. By using (hard to find Clipper) organic decaf tea that problem is avoided as the process is water based. I can then drink copious amounts of tea and count it towards my water quota per day. In fact, I think I will have one now...

I did think that because of my age my skin was having a hard time anyway so short of having a Ready Mix lorry load of anti ageing cream delivered I made use of Google to investigate solutions. It turns out that wearing sunscreen above factor 30 when outdoors (I do), eating a healthy diet (I do my best) and not smoking ( I don't ) are the main contributors to a vibrant healthy skin. There are vitamin supplements of vitals C and E which are meant to work so I will have to try those or just accept this craggy old face as it is.

Glass is definitely half full. Have fun.

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Thalia Skye I love my ostomy bags I know... many people would be surprised at that sentence. Sure, there have been some ups and downs, but if it wasn’t for my ostomy surgery, I’d be dead. Read more

Ignoring Symptoms

So, I guess the symptoms started back when I was at University. I was rather chunky when I started university and over the three years that I was there, I lost a lot of weight. I had assumed that this was because I was living the student lifestyle, and I was naturally just eating less and walking more. Most of my money went on books and whatnot, and whatever spare money I had was spent on cigarettes and nights out dancing with my friends. So I went from about 13 stones down to about 7 and a half stones, over a very short period of time. Looking back now, it was a warning sign. But back then, I just thought that I was finally losing my puppy fat.

Towards the end of University, I developed other symptoms; the most noticeable one was pain after eating meals. It was really bad cramping. It’s hard to explain. It’s a bit like a really severe period pain, that kind of dull ripping pain. I figured it would eventually go away and so I did nothing about it. That was mistake #1.

The next few symptoms I’m going to talk about are toilet-related. You’re welcome.

At first, I had really bad constipation. Then I had terrible diarrhoea. Then back and forth between the two. Like, if you take the Bristol Stool Chart, I was practically running up and down it. Well, waddling up and down it.

Soon I started to find blood in my stool. Then I started going to the toilet about six times a day, sometimes more. Then I discovered more blood. Then more pain. Then more blood. Then more weight loss. I mean, I looked terrible.

At this point, everyone around me, including my boss at the time, was telling me that I needed to go to the doctors and get it sorted out. I replied with, “I’m too busy to go to the doctors.” I figured it would eventually go away and so I did nothing about it. That was mistake #2.

Needless to say, I was miserable. If you’ve ever had an upset stomach, you’ll know that all you want to do is stay at home and curl up and hope that it goes away. Which it didn’t. No, it got worse.

The pain got worse, the frequency got worse. I didn’t want to eat, not just because of the pain from eating but from the fact that I was sick and tired of spending most of my time on the toilet.

Diagnosis & Hospitalisation

Eventually, by November 2009, my parents dragged me to the doctors and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. In February 2010, I was referred to a gastroenterologist where they took one look at me and said that I had to be hospitalised there and then. I was severely dehydrated, malnourished and I needed two blood transfusions because I’d lost so much blood. They gave me a LOT of steroids, antibiotics and immunosuppressant drugs, as well as various vitamins. And, of course, painkillers. Lots and lots of wonderful painkillers.

During the following months, I had several MRI scans, CT scans and a colonoscopy. The colonoscopy was excruciating. I’d never felt pain like that before. And don’t freak out if you’re due a colonoscopy, they’re not supposed to be painful. It was just because my colon was so damaged that every single second was agony.

And then, after my colonoscopy, my colon perforated. Yep. A nice hole in my colon. Great.

Again, don’t freak out if you’re due to have a colonoscopy. The only reason my colon perforated was because it was really damaged and fragile.

The thing is, we didn’t know this had happened at the time. I had been discharged back home, and been given a high calorie meal replacement thing called Modulen to try and help me gain weight and also rest the bowel for a while. Let me tell you something – Modulen is absolutely disgusting. I had to drink it for every meal, four times a day, for SIX weeks.

Despite it being disgusting, it did actually start to work. I seemed to be gaining a tiny bit of weight, and I wasn’t in as much pain as I had been. I was still on a LOT of painkillers though.

Eventually I was allowed to eat solid food again, and I was SO excited. It had to be low-residue, so it could only food that was really easy to digest, but even a bit of bland mashed potato was better than that Modulen!

But, within days, the pain started back up again. I noticed that I was getting a really severe pain in my left hip, and I was unable to move my left leg properly so I could only walk with a walking stick. My gastroenterologist presumed that this down to the high steroid dose that I was still on, as long-term steroid use can affect the joints and bones.

They found out about the perforation of my colon following another MRI scan. Basically, there was a hole in my colon, and all the waste that SHOULD have been exiting my body through the normal route, was just sat there collecting in my body cavity. It had caused my body to become septic, and I was dying.

“The Only Option Left is Ostomy Surgery”

I remember the moment when my gastroenterologist told me that ostomy surgery was the only option left to save my life. I cried. I cried a LOT. I was told on the Friday that I was having the surgery, and by the Sunday it had been done.

Let me just skip back to those two days before my surgery. A stoma nurse came and visited me and explained everything. She told me what the surgeon would do, she explained some of the terminology. She told me to expect either one or two bags when I woke up, depending on what happened during the surgery. She also told me that I could still have a normal life. To be honest, I wasn’t taking in anything she was saying. She told me she’d be back on the day of my surgery to mark the spot where the stoma would be formed. She gave me an information pack, which had a fake stoma and a bag for me to try, to get used to the feel of an ostomy bag.

I didn’t even look at it. Mistake #3.

Waking Up After Surgery

When I woke up from my surgery, I was in so much pain. Apparently I’d been in theatre for five hours. I remember seeing my mum. I remember trying to swallow water and thinking that the pipe stuck down my throat was way too fat for my tiny little throat. I remember feeling exhausted. I remember the pain the most though.

The first time I looked down at my abdomen, I freaked out. I had things coming out of me every which way I looked. I had a morphine drip, a catheter, an ileostomy bag, a colostomy bag, a drain from where they collected all the waste and pus from the perforation, and a giant dressing covering the laparotomy wound.

Yeah, you can understand why I freaked out.

Now, people always say they love how positive I am. That I adjusted to everything so well. How I am so bubbly and smiley, even after everything I’ve been through. Well, guys, I’ll let you into a little secret: I was NOT this positive after my surgery. In fact, I was a terrible patient. I cried all the time. Every time the physiotherapist walked over to my bed, I burst into tears because it hurt too much to even sit up, so I associated her visits with excruciating pain. She stopped visiting in the end, for a while at least.

Farewell, Belly Button
(Warning: Graphic Descriptions!)

A week or so after surgery, things took a turn for the worst. The excruciating pain wasn’t normal, and was actually due to an infection in the laparotomy wound, which had then started to reopen. My surgeons hadn’t stapled or stitched me back together after surgery, they used a sort of glue, which clearly wasn’t suitable and the top part of the wound had reopened. The surgeon was called and she decided that the only thing that could be done was to grab her scalpel and reopen the rest of the wound to avoid further infection – while I was conscious! It was the scariest moment of my life, and the experience of seeing everything that was going on, as well as seeing the inside of my abdominal wall, was something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. The open wound was 13cm long, 6cm wide x 5cm deep! As it now had to heal from the inside out, the nurses had to pack & dress the ‘valley’ down my abdomen every day for a month, and then when I was discharged the district nurses took over. It took seven months for the wound to heal up, and it’s now left me with a cavernous scar down my lower abdomen. Oh, how I wish I had a ‘zipper’ scar like so many other ostomates have.

Emotional Aftermath

I was 24 when I had my surgery and, back then, I thought my life was over. I thought I’d be housebound, that I’d lose my job, that I’d lose my house, that I’d never see my friends. I had pushed a few people away while I was in hospital, because that’s what I do when I’m sad, or angry, or frustrated. Or scared. Mistake #4.

While I was still in hospital, I was so distressed that the ward sister recommended that I spoke to a clinical psychologist. After just one one-hour session of me just rambling away at a complete stranger, I felt SO much better. Just being able to tell someone how I was feeling without any judgement was fantastic. Many of the stoma nurses (and the other ward nurses) kept saying things like, “you don’t need to feel worried, it’ll be fine” – things like that didn’t help me. I WAS feeling worried. It’s like saying to someone “don’t be afraid of spiders” or “don’t be nervous about flying” – you can’t just switch those feelings off. So the fact that I was able to just explain how I was feeling and for the clinical psychologist to listen to me rather than dismiss my feelings was a great help. And after that one-hour session, I felt so much better. In fact, I never had to see her again. Before long, I had accepted what had happened, and I was even comfortable enough with it to name my two stomas – Stan (the ileostomy) and Colin (the colostomy). A month after I was admitted, I was discharged to the care of the district nurses, and back to recovering at my parents’ house.

Thaila6

Reaching Out to Ostomates

My recovery was long, mostly due to the laparotomy wound taking so long to heal. Seven months to be exact. In total, I was off work for ten months. During that time, I searched the internet for all things ostomy-related. From discussion forums to YouTube videos, from ostomy t-shirts to pouch covers.

The most valuable information I gained during my recovery wasn’t from the stoma nurse, but was actually from fellow ostomates on the UOAA discussion forum. I was having a few problems - leakage, skin breakdown, a pointy-down stoma which was retracted on one side, the baseplate not sticking to my scar tissue – none of which my stoma nurse was able to resolve during her visits. So, instead, I turned to my new online friends on the discussion forum and they were able to suggest different products to use, and different ways to do things. I was even referred to a dermatologist regarding my skin breaking down and by the time the appointment came around, I had already found a way of protecting the skin from the output with various different ostomy & wound care products – the dermatologist was actually impressed with my little system, which had been fashioned just from the advice given to me from other ostomates.

Ostomonday on YouTube

It was that advice from others that inspired me to start making videos on YouTube about my ostomy experience, because I knew that talking about my own experiences could actually provide some advice to other people who went through the same thing as me. I started a playlist on my channel called Ostomonday, where every Monday I would post a video about a particular ostomy-related topic.

But after a while, it became a lot more than just providing some tips and advice. People were emailing me, messaging me, tweeting me, all saying how my videos had not just given them advice, but had actually helped them cope with having ostomy surgery. Many of them were young females who said that I was an inspiration to them, proving that ostomy surgery doesn’t have to stop you living your life as a confident, young woman. And that’s definitely true. I’m still doing ‘normal’ things, and even more than I ever did before my surgery! I’m training to become fit and healthy (currently doing the Insanity workouts!) and I’m getting married in September, so life is definitely in full swing!

Hearing so much positive feedback from fellow ostomates means the world to me, and just knowing that my videos or blog posts could actually help someone makes all the bad days worthwhile.

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Adjusting to life with a stoma

Everyday life with a stoma Everyday life with a stoma As you recover from the surgery, you’ll find yourself adjusting to life with a stoma. Read hints an tips on socialising, food and drink, and exercising. Everyday life with a stoma
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Everyday life with a stoma

Sports
Exercise is good for everyone. What you can do now really just depends on what you did before. Swimming and walking are both great low-impact ways to keep fit and keep your energy levels up. Just remember that taking up sport again should be a gradual process. Talk to your stoma care nurse for advice on how to reduce the risk of getting a hernia.

Swimwear tips:

  • Try before you buy. There is specialist swimwear available, but it should not be necessary

For women

  • A one-piece costume with ruched fabric or patterns can help disguise the stoma pouch
  • Swimwear with a panel across the stomach can provide extra support.
  • Sarongs are great for covering up on the beach

For men

  • Layering a pair of lycra or stretch material swimming trunks underneath shorts will help hold your stoma pouch in place

Sunbathing tip:Apply suntan lotion only after you’ve put your bag on, as the creams may affect the adhesive.

 

Diet
You don’t need to follow a special diet, but just like anyone else, some foods may cause wind or just not suit you. 


If you think a particular food is causing problems, try cutting it out for a while – then reintroduce it into your diet later. If you do this three times with any suspect food, you’ll know if it’s really causing an issue.

Chewing your food really well before swallowing aids digestion. In addition, charcoal tablets from the pharmacy can help avoid wind, as can peppermint and fennel tea. Yoghurt and yoghurt drinks can help some people too.

Foods that can cause wind include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, beans (green and baked), onions, garlic, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, sweetcorn and peas.

Drinks
As before your surgery, how much fluid you drink will affect the consistency of your output. It’s very individual, but many people find fizzy drinks and beer tend to cause wind. Water, squash and fruit juice are better than tea and coffee, which can be dehydrating. As for alcohol, you can still have a drink as long as it doesn’t interfere with any medication.

Have a chat with your doctor or specialist stoma nurse if you have any concerns. 


Constipation
If you are suffering from constipation, adapting your diet will help. Everyone’s is different so you know what is normal for you. If you are passing wind, your stoma is working. Increasing your fluid intake will help with constipation, but if you have any discomfort or concerns please contact your specialist stoma nurse or pharmacist. If you haven’t been for 3-4 days, they may recommend a laxative.

Diarrhoea
Occasionally, just like everyone else, you may suffer from a bout of diarrhoea or loose stools. Don’t be too alarmed about this. A one-off episode of diarrhoea may be caused by something you ate and will often resolve itself. However, three or more consecutive loose stools are a cause for concern as you risk becoming dehydrated. At this point, you should consult your stoma care nurse.


Dining out
Once you have a better idea of the types of foods that suit you, there’s no reason not to enjoy eating out again.

Start with a familiar restaurant and keep it simple – something like a pizza. When ordering, you don’t have to be too over cautious, just sensible. Order what you want but be aware that rich foods and sauces may cause a problem.

If you’re concerned about particular types of food, try them out at home first so you know how you’re going to react, and then add them to your diet gradually.

If you normally have a drink at home, start with a smaller version of your usual, e.g. a small beer rather than a large one. This will help your body build up your tolerance to alcohol again.

Socialising
Whether it’s a quiet drink in your local bar, a meal out with your partner or going out with friends, nothing should stop you from enjoying all the social events that you were doing before your operation.

It may be helpful to set yourself small targets to start with. It could be something as simple as using a public toilet for the first time, visiting a restaurant or relative or planning a day away. Before long, you will be thinking about booking a holiday or even going out dancing.

When you meet new people, you don’t have to tell them about your condition, unless you are comfortable doing that. It’s entirely up to you.

Intimacy 
Having any type of operation can affect how you look and feel about your body. Try and accept that it will take time to adjust. It’s not just about your stoma but your whole body.

Sexual activity doesn’t put you at risk of damaging your stoma and most people are able to resume a healthy sex life. It is natural to feel nervous so only do what feels comfortable, take your time and talk to your partner.

There are small stoma pouches that can be used during intimate moments. View our range of ostomy appliances and accessories for complimentary samples, or contact a member of our Customer Services.

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Who and what to tell about your stoma Who and what to tell about your stoma After your operation, one of the big questions may be: how and who do I tell about my stoma? Who to tell?
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Who and what to tell about your stoma

Whoever you decide to tell, the most important thing is that you are comfortable with your decision. You may want to explain that you had major surgery because of a serious illness and now wear a stoma pouch. This often leaves few other questions to be asked and people will see that you have a straightforward attitude towards your condition.

Family and friends
Being open and honest with the people close to you can help you get back to the life you had before your stoma surgery. In the beginning, it’s important for the people closest to you to understand that although you are back home, recovery from major surgery will take time.

Children
If you have young children or grandchildren you may feel that they are too young to understand. However, children tend to cope well if they are given the information in a simple way. Children will often pick up on secrets and hiding the truth from them can sometimes make them think a situation is more serious than it really is.

At work
Many people are concerned about telling work colleagues. And just like with family and friends, who you tell and what you tell them is entirely up to you. However it’s usually advisable to ensure that at least one person knows you have a stoma. Then, in case there are any problems or issues, you will have someone to talk to. 

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Going back to work Going back to work After surgery, it’s natural to want to get back to your everyday life as soon as you can. Going back to work may be part of that and, with a bit of planning, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be possible. Back to work after stoma surgery
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Going back to work

Thinking ahead
After surgery, it’s entirely possible for most people to go back to work. But when and how you do this really depends on how you feel, the type of work you do, and the stoma operation you had.

Talk to your employer and discuss your options as soon as possible. It may be possible to return to work part-time; this could be particularly helpful when you first go back as you may still feel tired and need time to get used to new routines.

Try it out
A few weeks before you go back, do a few trial runs where you dress and plan your day as if you were going to work. Think about your diet and when and how many times a day you may need to change or empty your pouch. This will help you to establish routines and plan your day accordingly. Most importantly, it will make you feel prepared.

Tips

  • Speak to your employer as soon as you can
  • If possible, build up your working hours gradually
  • Check the available changing facilities at work
  • Pack a small changing bag that you can take discreetly to the bathroom
  • Do trial runs before you start work, thinking about diet and clothing etc.
  • If your company provides healthcare insurance, check whether your condition affects the policy
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Staying away from home and holidays Staying away from home and holidays Having a stoma needn’t stop you from travelling or start planning a holiday a few months after your surgery. Tips for travelling with a stoma
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Holidays and travelling with a stoma

Travelling
Having a stoma needn’t stop you from travelling. You may, however, need a bit of time to adjust to having a stoma and feel ready to travel. Start by taking short trips, and see how it goes from there.

Whether you are travelling by car, ferry, train or plane, it’s important to be well prepared. Pack a small, travel changing bag and keep plenty of extra pouches and any other supplies you may need with you.

Flying
If you are flying, make sure you pack plenty of supplies to take with you on the flight and for while you’re away, plus extra for contingencies. Divide up your supplies in different bags just in case your luggage is misplaced or your flight is delayed. Don’t forget that scissors aren’t permitted in hand luggage, so cut all of your bags to size before you fly.

Don’t be concerned about your pouch expanding due to the change in cabin pressure. Stoma pouches have been designed and tested to withstand pressure changes.

Travelling abroad
Before you travel abroad, check your travel insurance policy to see how your condition and circumstances are covered while away.

In warmer climates, you may perspire more and thus need to change your pouch more frequently. Always make sure your skin is completely dry before applying a new pouch ensure a good secure fit. If necessary, use a hairdryer to dry the area – but be careful not to have the heat setting too hot.

You may also be at increased risk of diarrhoea or dehydration. Drink plenty of water, and take rehydration sachets and medicine to treat diarrhoea, just in case.

Once you are on holiday, remember that you can still do all of the same activities you did before, and relax and enjoy yourself.

Holiday tips:

  • Store stoma pouches in a cool place
  • Use bottled drinking water to change your pouch when out and about
  • Apply suntan lotion after you’ve put your pouch on, as the creams may affect the adhesive
  • Seal and empty used pouches and dispose of them with normal rubbish
  • If you feel a bit self-conscious about leaving bags in your hotel room, use public bins
  • Before leaving for your vacation, find out where you can get professional healthcare assistance at your destination, just in case.
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Stoma appliance terms explained Stoma appliance terms explained Life after stoma surgery is a journey, with challenges along the way. Your body can continue to change and there are a lot of new things to get to grips with – starting with the key terminology of stoma appliances. Read common terms of stoma appliances.
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Stoma appliance terms explained

To help you better understand your stoma appliance and discuss your needs with your stoma care nurse, here is a glossary of commonly used terms.

Adhesive: The part of a stoma appliance that attaches the appliance to your skin while you are wearing it. The adhesive must ensure close contact with the skin surface so that output from your stoma does not touch the surrounding skin.

Baseplate: The part of a two-piece stoma appliance that is covered by the adhesive.

Coupling system: This attaches the adhesive baseplate to the pouch in a two-piece appliance, allowing the pouch to be changed without changing the baseplate. It can either be mechanical, or adhesive.

Convexity: A specially shaped baseplate with an oval shell that puts light pressure on the peristomal skin. It is designed to help pouch a stoma that is difficult to manage, for example, a retracted stoma that lies below the skin.

Extended wear adhesive: An adhesive that can be worn for a longer time period, or if there is “aggressive” output from your stoma. Some types of ileostomy or urostomy can have output that breaks down standard adhesives too quickly. Extended wear adhesives are generally used with two-piece appliances.

Filter: From time to time, your stoma releases flatus or wind. The filter included in the appliance has a deodorising action which helps ensure there is no odour, one of the things that people often worry about. It also controls the release of the deodorised wind, so that your bag doesn’t inflate (which is also called ‘ballooning’).

Non-return valve: Urostomy appliances have a non-return valve to stop urine from flowing back to the stoma and help prevent urinary infections.

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Connecting with others who have an ostomy Connecting with others who have an ostomy Meeting and connecting with others who are going through or have been through ostomy surgery can be a reassuring source of support. Read more
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Support and community

Many people with an ostomy find it helpful to go to support group meetings or join a forum, Facebook group or follow people on Twitter. Whether you meet or chat often or just once in a while, it can be a good chance to learn more and to connect with others who have the same questions you do. You might well find you’re not the only one who’s wondering about certain issues: that question in the back of your mind isn’t odd after all… And answers to questions that never occurred to you could prove really useful.

It’s up to you how involved you become. Some people like the anonymity of the web. Some people find it reassuring to go to a few meetings in person, but it isn’t something they decide to do on a regular basis. Others find that talking to others regularly about stoma issues is very helpful. They enjoy both the learning and the social life it gives them.

Confidence and reassurance are key to how you continue to approach life in the months and years following surgery. Support groups can be an important part of regaining that confidence. From there you may even decide that you want to help others too. Your stoma care nurse may have good suggestions on how and where you could help. Another good resource are the national organisations (see below). They can help you connect with others or direct you to a local group meeting. Some people also choose to become a Certified Trained Visitor, those who volunteer to talk to people who’ve recently had a stoma operation, either while they’re in the hospital or during their recovery at home.


Ostomy support groups

Colostomy Association
www.colostomyassociation.org.uk 

The Urostomy Association
www.urostomyassociation.org.uk 

The Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Support Group (IA)
www.iasupport.org 

Stomawise 
www.stomawise.co.uk 

Living with a Stoma
www.living-with-a-stoma.co.uk 

Ostomyland
www.ostomyland.com

Gay and Lesbian Ostomates
www.glo-uoaa.org 

Stoma Data - Practical Information for colostomates
www.stomadata.com 

International Ostomy Association
www.ostomyinternational.org

Cancer support groups and associations

Macmillan Cancer Relief
www.macmillan.org 


Beating Bowel Cancer
www.beatingbowelcancer.org 

Bowel Cancer UK
www.bowelcanceruk.org 

Bowel Cancer Information 
www.bowelcancer.tv

Have I Got Bowel Cancer - Symptom Checker
www.haveigotbowelcancer.com

CancerHelp
www.cancerhelp.org 


Crohn's and Colitis support groups

Crohn's & Colitis UK
http://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/ 


Coloplast on social media

Coloplast UK participates in social media to help build support and understanding amongst customers and healthcare professionals interested in our products and services. Click the icons below to follow us:

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