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Returning to your normal daily activities after ostomy surgery might be challenging at first. To help you ease back into the swing of things, Hollister answers ten questions that can help make your transition back into everyday life a little smoother.

I had my surgery three months ago, and I find myself constantly worrying about my stoma. Is this normal and will it pass?

During the first weeks and months after your surgery, you will be learning about your stoma and how to manage your “new normal.” For most people, this phase will pass once you get used to the idea of having a stoma. The most important thing to remember is that you are in control of the management of your health and well-being. You are also not alone. Your Wound, Ostomy and Continence (WOC) nurse can help you. Support is also available from Hollister Incorporated Secure Start Services.

My grandson is six years old and very bright. He was upset when he heard I was having surgery and keeps asking me questions. How do I explain my condition to him?

Young children may want to know why you have to have surgery. It’s good to be prepared ahead of time and anticipate some of these questions. How much or how little you decide to tell your children or grandchildren may depend on the nature of your family as well as the age of the child. Honest and simple explanations are important and help form the basis of good relationships with younger family members. There are a variety of ostomy-related resources available to you, such as books and dolls that can help you answer some of these questions.

I’m concerned that my ostomy will change the great relationship I have with my fiancé. How much should I tell him?

Questions from your relatives and friends are likely inevitable because they are concerned about your well-being. There is no need to go into detail unless you choose to do so. You may consider satisfying curiosity by explaining that you had a serious illness that became a threat to your health. Because of this illness, you had a major surgery and now wear an ostomy pouch. You could also offer more details when you are contemplating or have been involved in a sexual relationship. In either case, your stoma will not remain invisible and you will want to be prepared to talk about it. Check out our guide Living with an Ostomy: Sex and Parenthood for more information and recommendations.

I had my surgery three months ago and find myself crying a lot. Where can I turn for emotional support?

If you are not making emotional progress and this is affecting your quality of life, then you should consider talking with your healthcare professional or a support group like the United Ostomy Associations of America.

Is it important to teach someone else in my family how to change and empty my pouch?

Your stoma is part of your life. It is also part of your family’s and your partner’s life. Some people find it useful if their family members know how to change and empty their pouch in an emergency. Explaining the details of your stoma care to those close to you can be great for your relationships and your peace of mind.

I am an accountant and anxious to get back to work. How long should I wait after surgery?

You will need to decide when you are ready to return to work after your surgery. The time for this varies from person to person. The severity of the disease, the reason for your surgery, your recovery time, age and the type of job you do affects how long it will take you to get back to work. It is best to discuss returning to work with your healthcare professional. It’s important to remember — try not to rush going back to work, if possible. Take your time. Going back to work before you are ready may cause more problems in the long run. Feeling tired can be a real problem, even months after your operation. If you are experiencing low energy, it may help to know that this can happen to almost anyone. If it is an option, you may want to return gradually, perhaps by working part-time before going back full-time.

What should I bring with me when I go back to work to make things easier?

Carry a change of supplies with you in the car or in your work bag. Do not leave your products in a car during heat or extreme cold. Also, keep a change of supplies in your desk drawer or locker at work.

My job involves a lot of bending and stretching and I’m worried about injuring my stoma. Do you have any advice?

If you have a job that calls for a lot of bending and stretching, two useful things can help. First, wear a pouch that can be attached to a stoma belt for added security while you are working. Second, wear loose-fitting clothing and avoid constrictive belts and tight trousers.

I work outdoors as a foreman and though I don’t do a lot of heavy lifting, I tend to perspire a lot. What can I do to make sure my pouching system stays in place?

If your job is fairly active, you may perspire at the area where the pouch is attached to the skin. This can be particularly frustrating because sweat and/or oily skin can reduce the effectiveness of the adhesive holding your pouch in place. You may need to change your pouch more often. An option is to use a skin barrier that copes better with perspiration. Your WOC nurse or your supplier can provide recommendations.

What should I consider when choosing a supplier for my pouching system and accessories?

Once you have established a product fit that is right for you, it is time to find a supplier that can provide you with an ongoing supply of ostomy products. There are several considerations when choosing a supplier:

  • Do you want to work with a national or regional durable medical equipment (DME) supplier who can mail your supplies, or do you prefer to pick up supplies at a local pharmacy or DME supplier?
  • Can the supplier bill your insurance in-network to minimize your out-of-pocket expenses?
  • Do you already have a DME supplier that serves your other medical device needs?

Many ostomy supplies are covered by private insurance plans, military benefits, Medicare and Medicaid. Check with your carrier to find out your level of coverage and if you must use a specific supplier.

Have a question that wasn’t answered here?

Check out this helpful new brochure from Hollister Incorporated, Living with An Ostomy: Home & Work LifeTo get more information like this and receive updates regarding Hollister products, services and education, click here. Or call us today at 1.888.808.7456.

Nothing contained herein should be considered medical advice. Medical advice can only be provided by an individual’s personal doctor or medical professional.

This article was made possible by a sponsorship from our friends at Hollister Incorporated.

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