Supporting Your Process
Does anyone really know how you feel facing or living with an ostomy? Maybe not, but other people with ostomies can provide support and suggestions from their shared experience. We can direct you to options for finding the needed support during your ostomy journey - not just for you, bur for your family and caregivers. The information below is intended to be educational to help you with the details of living with a stoma. Always confer with your physician or nurse if an issue impacts your health and well-being.
Your Hospital Stay
The surgery typically requires a hospital stay of 3 to 4 days post operation but may vary from person to person. During your hospital stay, you will learn to care for your ostomy and the appliance or pouch. Before going home, an ostomy nurse or other expert will assist you in identifying which ostomy appliance you will need.
What to Bring
When packing for the hospital it is suggested to bring loose fitting clothing such as sweatpants with loose fitting waist bands. Consider bringing a larger bag for ostomy supply samples that you may be given upon discharge.
You will learn how to take care of yourself and your ostomy and how to change the pouching system with the support of your nursing team.
Your Wound, Ostomy, and Continence (WOC) Nurse
Before the surgery, the WOC Nurse meets the patient and family members/caregivers to discuss any concerns and provide clear information. The WOC Nurse or the surgeon mark the ideal location of the stoma in your abdomen to ensure easy management of the stoma and an optimal seal of the pouching system. While the location of your stoma may be marked before the surgery, some circumstances during the surgery may not allow for the stoma to be located in the chosen site. The final stoma site is chosen by the surgeon during the procedure.
After surgery the WOC Nurse visits you to make sure that the stoma is healthy. Throughout your hospital stay the nursing team, in collaboration with the WOC Nurse, will start teaching you and/or your family members or caregivers what to expect, how to care for your stoma, how to measure it and change the pouching system, what to do if you develop skin and stoma complications, and when to consult your WOC Nurse or physician.
The WOC Nurse has the knowledge and expertise to help you select the most appropriate pouching system, provide support, and answer questions you may have. Long-term follow up allows the WOC Nurse to: provide close monitoring; address potential new issues that arise when you return to your everyday life; continue education; and change the pouching system selection as needed.
Prevent Skin Irritation Around the Stoma
Cleansing the area thoroughly is very important. Oils and ointments can prevent the pouch from sticking. If you are experiencing skin breakdown, contact your physician or WOC Nurse. Only use lotions, oils, or ointments that have been recommended by your WOC Nurse or your physician.
Not everyone needs to wear an ostomy belt. The ostomy belt is designed to provide extra security and support; it is a personal preference. The belt is designed to be adjustable so you can find the optimal fit and comfort.
During your hospital stay, dietary advice will most likely be provided. Generally, people with an ostomy consume a varied and balanced diet but do not follow a specific diet unless asked to do so by the WOC Nurse or physician. However, for the first six to eight weeks after surgery, you should follow a low-fiber diet. Everyone should consider his or her individual tolerances; your personal experience will be your best guide. If when returning to your normal diet you experience problems, it is recommended that you introduce one “new food” at a time to be able to identify which food is causing undesirable effects. Contact your physician or WOC Nurse for specific dietary concerns.
Hydration is essential. Water is absorbed in the colon. Therefore when you have an ascending colostomy or an ileostomy, water absorption is not as efficient. It is recommended that you compensate for these losses by drinking at least 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day. Follow your physicians’ recommendation on fluid intake.
Returning to Work
A sufficient period of recovery is essential. It is normal to take time to resume your activities, and you must be patient with your rate of recovery. Your surgeon will decide when it is time to go back to work, based on your health and your type of work.