If you’ve recently had, or are about to have ostomy surgery, you will need to use an ostomy bag. Life with an ostomy bag is different, and every person has a unique experience with an ostomy bag, but this guide can help you adjust to life post-op.
First, using an ostomy bag requires some emotional adjustments. Know that emotional changes are normal and it’s not unusual to experience a wide range of emotions and feelings. This is a life-changing surgery that can cause stress, grief, low self-esteem, sadness, and anger. However, it is possible to overcome these emotions. Be patient with yourself and remember you are not alone. Approximately one in 500 Americans also live with an ostomy.
If you are struggling with your emotions when living with an ostomy bag, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you feel persistent sadness, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, hopelessness, apathy about activities you used to enjoy, or you experience sleep changes, consider talking to a professional healthcare practitioner.
You can also find a sense of support and community by signing up for an ostomy support group. Several groups exist throughout the country, both in-person and online. Talking to others who share your experience can help you feel less alone.
Aside from the emotional changes you may experience post-surgery, you will also have physical adjustments you need to get used to. First, know your stoma will change over time as it heels. Your stoma is the opening on the abdomen that wastes pass through. Your stoma can change in size and shape as you heal. It will also be swollen, but it will shrink. Prepare for these changes and don’t be alarmed when they happen.
Next, learn how to apply, change, and empty your ostomy bags. Caring for your bag at first may feel strange, but it will become second nature after getting used to it. Follow the instructions given to you by your doctor after surgery. They will go over the steps and answer any questions you may have. If you go home after your surgery and still have questions, you can contact your doctor or watch online videos for assistance.
Peristomal skin care is an essential part of living with an ostomy bag. You want to reduce the amount of skin irritation you experience with your ostomy. Keeping the area clean and using products like protective stoma powder, skin barrier spray, and adhesive remover wipes can help. Keep an eye out for rashes, redness, and weepy skin, and inform your doctor of these symptoms of skin irritation.
These tips can help you adjust to life with an ostomy bag. If you’re searching for ostomy products, shop with Sarasota Medical Products, Inc. You can call us at 941-377-1451 with any questions.