Living with an ostomy simply means your body works differently. In the case of a colostomy or ileostomy, you’re functioning with little or no colon. With urostomates, they're living without a bladder. It's truly remarkable how ostomies save lives, but living with one 24/7 can be exhausting — watch out for these four common energy zappers.
1. Trips To The Bathroom
While non-ostomates probably have one bowel movement per day, you might be in the bathroom several times to empty your pouch. This can happen more with an ileostomy or urostomy versus a colostomy. It’s unavoidable, so just know that this ongoing daily task can leave you feeling exhausted, especially for ostomates dealing with high output. And on days where you're changing your system, don't forget that this routine may take extra time and energy.
Quick tip: Drink fluids after each restroom trip. Rehydrating your body can help restore some lost energy.
2. Lack Of Sleep
In the weeks following surgery, you might be waking up at least once per night to empty the pouch. For some ostomates, it can take months for their bodies to heal or for output to slow down. Plus, if you were a stomach sleeper prior to surgery, adjusting to a side or back sleep position could be challenging. If days of broken sleep are turning into weeks or months, it’s no wonder why you're feeling exhausted.
Quick Tip: Avoid eating large meals at night and know which foods run through the system faster. Don't lean on caffeine, instead, try taking a 20-minute power nap to help boost your energy. Here are some tips from Lottie Ryan on getting the best quality sleep possible to reduce fatigue.
3. Nutritional Deficiencies
Lack of proper nutrients can directly affect our body's energy levels. If we don’t get enough nutrition from food, we tend to feel tired and sluggish. Vitamins for ileostomy patients are highly recommended because some essential nutrients are being absorbed through the large intestine which most ileostomates no longer have.
Quick tip: Eating healthy is important to get proper nourishment for energy. Talk to your doctor about blood tests for deficiency of specific nutrients, such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, thiamine, and niacin.
4. Endless To-Do Lists
Engaging in too many daily activities (even fun things) can sometimes leave ostomates feeling completely drained. Know your limits. Remember to reserve some energy for completing daily responsibilities. Over-scheduling yourself can equal over-exhausting yourself and may leave you feeling guilty or inadequate because you can’t keep up.
Quick Tip: Ask for help. Every ostomate should have an extra set of helping hands around for times when life gets crazy busy.
Having an ostomy can come with a huge responsibility — always taking care of yourself. This may seem like a full-time job at first, but it’s an important step to creating a happier and healthier life. Remember that you’re absolutely unique; learn what works best for you.