Happy Halloween from us here at Comfizz!
Having ostomy surgery can understandably be a daunting prospect and it's perfectly normal to feel scared & unsure.
Today, we deliver some myth-busters (float aside, Ghostbusters) and take you through some of the below myths to reassure you.
Before we start, it's important to remember that having an ostomy is such an individual experience so no two experiences are the same. It goes without saying that if you are concerned to seek medical advice and we'd also recommend checking out our blog, which offers lots of educational resources, alongside accessing the online community if you are on social networks such as Instagram. Also, reader discretion is advised as there are no standard set of rules with ostomy life or concrete outcomes the same for everyone, so basically, you know your body and your circumstances best. This post is more of a general post for those with an ostomy/s.
Our Social Media & Marketing Specialist, Amy, has a permanent ileostomy and has had "Stacey Stoma" since 2011 due to severe Crohn's Disease and a large benign tumour that nearly took her life down to blood loss in surgery. You can e-mail Amy or drop her a message on one of our social channels.
Disclaimer: As always, this post is from our Social Media & Marketing Specialist, Amy's, experience of living with a permanent ileostomy, Crohn's Disease and from what she has researched. Nothing in our blog posts should be taken as medical advice. It's always best to consult a medical professional if you have queries or concerns.
1. Ostomies are permanent for everyone.
Ostomies can be temporary or permanent depending on what has been removed from the body.
There are many things to be taken into account. These are things such as your condition and reason for needing surgery. Other factors will play a part in this such as quality of life, age, chances of complications in surgery and/or recovery, whether the body may just need a rest to heal. As is with some Inflammatory Bowel Disease cases, an ostomy may be reversed and other reasons to be considered are whether other health problems may not make a patient a good candidate for future surgery. Every case is different, just as each illness and/or need for surgery is very personal and unique to that patient.
Typically, a urostomy is permanent and cannot be reversed, unlike some patients who undergo ileostomy or colostomy surgery.
There are also patients who have two stomas - which is usually an ileostomy or colostomy with a urostomy, at the same time, often referred to as "double baggers" in the ostomy world.
Read our blog post "Is an ostomy for life?" for more.
2. Nobody will date you with an ostomy.
Amy (see her personal ostomy Instagram here) speaks of her dating experience since ostomy surgery:
3. You can't wear what you want with an ostomy.
There are so many options for what you can wear with an ostomy. Our vlogger, Ant (@ibdlife) recently showed us his Autumn Ostomy Fashion Tips and we also wrote about some Comfizz fashion tips within that article including how to wear and combine some of our garments.
You can also read more on our stoma supportwear.
Whether you want to keep your ostomy bag discreet or show it off is up to you. Your body, your rules! Also, just because someone may choose to conceal it, this doesn't mean they are ashamed of having an ostomy bag, it can merely mean they are more comfortable to keep it under wraps.
The above photos are examples of recent outfits Amy has worn.
4. You smell bad if you have an ostomy.
Ostomy bags are designed to retain odour, with many of them having charcoal filters to allow wind to be filtered from the ostomy bag without the smell.
Understandably, just as if you were passing poo from your bottom or urine via the way you would without a urostomy, there can be a smell. This can often be impacted by what you eat. We go into this in more detail in our blog post - "Does an ostomy bag smell?"
However, if you are worried about emptying your bag round a friend's house for example because of ostomy odour anxiety, there are many products out there such as ostomy deodorant drops and room sprays to help combat odour in the bag before you empty or to spray when you empty. Examples include Respond Healthcare's "Neutralise" Drops. Again, we also go into this in the above linked blog post.
5. You can't enjoy food with an ostomy.
Again, this is just a general point as we understand there are some ostomates who have difficulty eating for other health reasons. Luckily, for a lot of people, they can eat a wide variety of foods, especially if they were very ill before surgery and surgery has improved their lives massively.
There are your typical "approach with caution" or "avoid at all costs" food guidelines for ostomy life and also, after ostomy surgery, it is vital that food is introduced slowly and with easy to digest foods whilst your body adapts to its new plumbing. Your body can be very unsettled after surgery, especially bowel surgery and this is normal. Excess wind and noise usually starts to settle down as you progress in your recovery.
5 gut-warming recipes just in time for that Autumn/Winter feel at the moment in the UK are ones not to be missed!
6. You can't swim because your bag will fall off.
Adhesive on ostomy bags is very strong and is put through many tests before being approved for manufacture. Understandably, there can be apprehension around going swimming or in water after ostomy surgery, but once you get the go ahead from your medical team, you should be able to do this just as anybody else would do. Swimming, going in a jacuzzi or having a bath are all safe and easily doable with an ostomy.
For peace of mind, there are garments you can wear for support when swimming such as our swimwear. Other Comfizz products such as our waistbands (for example, our Limited Edition Marl Waistbands on offer) can be worn under normal swimwear, providing the care guide is followed and they are washed as soon as possible after exposure to chlorine. Bear in mind that chlorine can reduce the life of the garment.
Also, ostomy accessories such as flange extenders are extra bits of adhesive that can make you feel even more secure around your bag if you're in doubt.
"How I stopped my stoma bag ballooning when swimming with Comfizz" by Katie May is a great article to give you an insight into swimming if you experience wind in your bag when swimming.
7. All ostomy bags are the same, so stick to what you've got.
You know what they say... "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". We asked Amy what she thought of finding the right ostomy bag and accessories and here is what she told us:
8. Irritated skin is the norm with an ostomy.
Absolutely not. False.
Healthy parastomal skin (skin around your ostomy) should be the norm, but fear not, if you have sensitive skin or skin irritations, there are so many products out there that you can use to try and combat this. It's always best to seek medical advice before trying any random ostomy product as a stoma nurse, for example, will more than likely be able to spot what the problem is and offer more suitable recommendations.
It's always best to get skin irritations checked out in case an infection is causing them.
9. An ostomy bag will get in the way of intimacy.
Granted, having an ostomy can feel daunting when you get to a point in recovery where you consider having sex. This is normal and it's very important to have an understanding partner to help reassure you.
Our waistbands such as our 7" depths can be a great confidence booster in the bedroom and also give you extra support and bag security, without getting in the way.
Depending on what surgery you have had, your anatomy can change after ostomy surgery in your reproductive system, which can mean certain sex positions may need changing to ensure you feel more comfortable or things such as more lubrication may be needed. Your libido can always be affected by surgery and the trauma your body has gone through. Do not worry if things feel uncomfortable at first. Communicate, take it at your pace and know that you can try again. If you are worried, seek medical advice.
10. You can't exercise with an ostomy.
False. You can!
When you've had ostomy surgery, it's vital you communicate with your medical team as they will be able to help you gauge when it is safe to start exercising and professionals such as your stoma nurse should be able to advise you with what gentle exercises to start with and what support you will need.
When we talk about exercise, a lot of people feel that this must mean going to the gym or making some huge effort to do sports, which isn't the case.
Read more on how to exercise after stoma surgery.
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