Living With An Ostomy

Medically Reviewed by Jacque Parker, RN

When you first meet your Ostomy, say "hello" and make friends he/she will be with you! It is overwhelming the thoughts that enter you mind. Your thinking, is this for me? Maybe your path was long and tiresome. Maybe it was so quick; you were not sure what was happening. Maybe you did not have enough time for all of the questions that you now have! Such as:

  • Can I ever apply this flange without it leaking the first time?
  • Will I know when to empty?
  • Can everyone else see this bulge under my clothes?
  • Will I know what I can eat and cant eat?
  • Will I know what activities that I can do or can't?
  • Will I know what clothing I can wear?
  • Did I make the right choice in having this procedure?
  • Can everyone else smell me?

All of these will cross your mind! I personally just want to assure you right now that you are o.k. These are normal questions and many more will become known as you begin to live your new life!

There will be frustration, as there is learning anything new. However, in time you will be able to do it with sleepy eyes in the am of the early morning! In the beginning, it will take you 30 minutes to an hour then as time progresses you will have the time down to 15 minutes or less. Patience is the key and the will to live is the most vital.

No one can tell that you have the ostomy. Only you will be able to tell. Its your choice to tell whom you want to know.

Products will aid you in your odors if you find them offensive. The odor is all of it own creation. It is different but there are things your can purchase that can almost eliminate the odor and diet too can help.

Your clothing does not have to change. You may still wear jeans, panty hose, swimsuits, as long your are careful about not blocking flow of the stoma. It is best for a few weeks after surgery to be comfortable mostly because of the surgical incision. But in a few weeks try those jeans on again and see for yourself!

Activities: You should be able to most everything that you were doing before. You can swim, you can run, you can backpack the mountains if you choose. You can sunbathe, you can ride bikes, you can play with your children. This procedure is to give your quality of life back, not to hamper it!

Just remember, it's the beginning of life. We can explore this new path of life together. Your doctor didn't give you this procedure to stay behind the blinds and not see the sunshine of life. Open the doors, step outside and live this life! We can travel together. Feel free to contact me with any questions that you may have. Don't feel alone anymore.

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Penny Brown was an editor of's Living with Ostomy site.

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