How to Cope With Your Emotions After Colostomy Surgery
After colostomy surgery, your emotions are all over the place and it is a difficult time for you.
It feels like a horrendous situation and the emotional stress that follows is compounded with the realization of having to live a life, temporarily or permanently without control over defecating.
There is never a time to "go" if you know what I mean; neither is there an urge to "go." Your stoma is the one in charge. It calls the shots and empties your waste as and when it pleases!
The feelings you have are normal and should be expected. This is exactly how I felt when I was strong enough to know what was happening after my colostomy surgical procedure.
Granted, we all react to the condition in varying ways, depending on our age, occupation, lifestyle, profession, and a few other factors, but generally, the thoughts that go through our minds are fundamentally the same.
You are not alone.
Some ostomates keep their feelings to themselves and appear withdrawn from everyone and everything that used to be of interest to them. But then there are many others who are open-minded about their condition. They have no qualms about expressing their feelings and concerns with others like their stoma nurse (someone who is always there for you), family members, or friends of their friends who’ve found themselves in similar circumstances.
Many also join online forums. These online communities are the best places to be/interact if you are emotionally affected by having to live with a stoma. It's only on ostomy patients forums that you get to share thoughts and experiences with fellow ostomates.
It is this kind of interaction that enlightens you to the fact that you are not the only one going through this.
Living With a Stoma? Don't Be a Slave to Your Emotions
It is important that you first try to accept the fact as soon as is possible. The earlier you come to terms with having to live with a stoma, whether temporarily or permanently, the better it is for your state of mind.
It is crucial that you do not feel or do these 10 things:
- Feel like the whole world knows your condition
- Withdraw into yourself
- Bottle up your emotions
- Become self-conscious
- Become anti-social
- Change your lifestyle
- Have a feeling of shame
- Worry about what people say
- Stop your recreational activities
- Change your fashion style
If you have worries, scary thoughts, questions, or just a shoulder to lean on once in a while, get your thought out into the open, offline, or online on the ostomy patients forums. Talking about your colostomy and discussing it with like minds will help assuage your negative feelings and calm your mind.
Learn to Accept Your Condition
Within the first few weeks of your surgical procedure, you should have accepted your condition. Okay, maybe this is easier said than done, but it is true.
During this time, you will have been accustomed to using your stoma care products. You may still be in the process of learning how to effectively manage a stoma, and how to recognize the workings of your digestive system, depending on your type of diet but then that's normal.
Though managing your ostomy will be confusing at first and you will have many questions and issues arising like:
- What’s the fastest way to empty or change a colostomy bag without making a mess?
- Can I travel without worrying about unpleasant incidences?
- How do I prevent bag ballooning?
- How will I manage gas build-up in my colostomy bag?
- How do I guard against leaks?
- Goodness! Will I be able to swim with a stoma?
However, dealing with such physical issues becomes easier once you have come to terms with these emotional feelings, mentally.
Dealing with the condition demands patience and the determination to look on the bright side of things. Remember, it could be worse. You may have died in the operating room but now, you are lucky to have the chance of living a good life.
Think about it; if you weren't fortunate enough to have good medical care, what would have happened? Without surgery what could have been your chances of survival?
Moreover, isn't it wonderful to know there is always professional help "around the corner," whenever you need it?
The most important thing is to be positive about it. Most likely there will be care and understanding from family and friends that know about your condition. And whenever you encounter mishaps (and they do happen) such as colostomy bag ballooning, possible pouch blowouts, leakages, or loud ‘farty’ sounds, deal with them as one of those things that happen when you have a colostomy.
Have a sense of realism as this will go a long way in helping you manage any untoward situation; see stoma care as a part of your regular routine and lifestyle.
Having a stoma is not a hindrance in any way whatsoever, and it, therefore, should not be seen as an obstacle in either your personal or professional life. Just learn to be resilient.
Importance of Making Emotional Progress after a Colostomy
Not making emotional progress always affects a stoma patient's quality of life in a negative way so, if you feel its too much for you to handle, seek advice from the professionals (doctor or stoma nurse) or join an ostomy support group.
In any case, information on finding and getting advice can be provided by your Stoma Care Nurse who most probably may be the first to point out these issues to you and provide you with the required information in the event that you'll need it.
Help and Support for Ostomates
Yes, courage takes guts, but the good thing to know is that no patient has to deal with this alone. Stoma Care Nurses will always be there to give the necessary help and support you may need.
Group support is also available from Stoma (Ostomy) Associations in your region. If you are a colostomy patient or a carer for an ostomate, if you need a list of contacts, ask your Stoma Nurse, or seek additional information online.
Meanwhile, have a wonderful new life as an ostomate.
Questions & Answers
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