I also had my rectum removed. I had my surgery just over two months ago and it's totally fine now. It was slightly uncomfortable for a few weeks after the surgery but definitely not unbearable pain at all.
You will probably be just fine in returning to work. You may have to check with your surgeon about how long you'll have to wait before doing heavy lifting after the surgery, but you will eventually be fine.
You will have slight restrictions on what you can eat, but nothing enormous, especially compared to what you can't eat now, I'm guessing. You'll be on a low-residue diet for the first 6 weeks or so probably, but eventually you'll only really have to look out for things like nuts and seeds and popcorn, and possibly the skins of some fruits and veggies.
I have had mine for over 2 months now and it has only leaked once, and that was due to me not changing it when I should have. Just wanted to get a few more hours' weartime, and that was my fault. I have gotten deodorant for my pouch but seriously I don't think it smells that bad. No worse than regular poop. And if you just flush right after you empty, I don't really see a problem.
You don't have to be THAT careful, but don't go banging on it or anything. You don't have to change it after bathing or swimming--it's made to be able to get wet. It's a good idea to dry it thoroughly, though, to increase wear time. You can use a towel or a hair dryer. It's really not a huge deal.
I have not had one day since my surgery that I wasn't EXTREMELY grateful to have my ostomy. You'll get used to it quickly if you think about the good things it's bringing you. Good luck on your surgery and keep us posted!
Stephanie, 28 years old
Diagnosed with Crohn's Colitis March 2000
Possible diagnosis of IBS-D
Total Proctocolectomy and Permanent Ileostomy 3/18/10!
Tried: Asacol, Remicade, 6mp, Humira, Xifaxan, Apriso, Imuran, Rowasa Enemas, Colocort Enemas, Psyllium Seed Powder... Tried Probiotics: Align (with no change except bloating) and VSL #3 DS (AWFUL diarrhea).
Currently taking: Prenatal Vitamin, Vitamin B 12 Complex, Biotin, Vitamin D, Calcium, Flomax (for urinary retention).