If someone were to ask you what you value most, I’m sure that relationships with friends and family would come close to the top of the list. When the person you care about is living with an ostomy, they’ve likely been through a lot. Ostomy surgery is life-saving for many, but it’s also life-altering.
Simple, meaningful gestures can help a friend better cope with having an ostomy. Here are five simple ways to make the ostomate in your life feel special on World Kindness Day, or any day!
1. The Gift of Hydration
One of the most important things ostomates should maintain at all times is hydration. It’s a habit that takes discipline and constant maintenance, but you can help by reminding them to drink up! If you’re out at the store, pick up an electrolyte supplement, a refreshing coconut water or a reusable glass bottle. These small gifts are reminders that you care and can make a big difference.
2. Books Can Heal
Ostomy surgery can be intimidating — fear of the unknown, changes in body appearance and wearing an ostomy appliance may cause anxiety. Reading books can heal and help pass the time while ostomates are recovering in the hospital or at home. There are several books written by ostomate authors available in paperback and Kindle.
3. Healthy Meet-Up
Instead of choosing to meet-up for coffee, suggest a great spot for tea, juice or smoothies instead. Juice bars are all the rage nowadays, so it won’t be hard to find one near you. Raw fruits and veggies are sometimes hard to digest for ostomates, that’s why cold-pressed juices and smoothies are a great option. The nutrients in freshly prepared fruit and veggies can help give your ostomy-buddy natural energy and the benefits will last longer than a quick caffeine fix… you’ll benefit too!
4. Learn Something New Together
Coping emotionally after ostomy surgery is different for everyone and some ostomates go through very dark times. If you’re trying to comfort your friend who just had ostomy surgery, but just can’t relate to what they’re going through you’re not alone. Look for an ostomy support group in your area and attend a meeting with your friend. Making face-to-face connections with others who have gone through the same challenges can be one of the best sources of comfort and encouragement. Learning from others plays big part in moving forward when everything seems overwhelming.
5. Mood Boosters
It’s the simple gestures of caring that seem to work every time. A hug, a compliment, even a smile - no firecrackers, confetti or summersaults needed. If your ostomy-buddy lives far away, call them up on the phone and say, "I have nothing important to discuss, but I just wanted to hear how you’re doing.” Listening without judgment can help someone feel loved and understood, and sometimes saying only three small words will help, "Don't give up."