5 Back To School Tips For Ostomates

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By Talya Goding @Feel_Ostomistic

Do you have an ostomy and worry if it will affect your studies? That’s was the question I had when I wanted to go back to school. I was concerned about becoming a full-time student as a new ostomate.

Here are some tips and products I found that helped make my life at school easier:

1. Meet with the teacher before the school year kicks off.

For those who know me, I am stubborn and haven't quite grasped the concept that it is OKAY to ask for help. I got through the first few weeks before I realized that I needed assistance. There were some desks that sat right at the height of my stoma which was uncomfortable and painful. I was also more comfortable sitting at towards the back of the classroom, just in case I needed to use the bathroom quickly.

After a few weeks I worked up the courage to meet with the course instructor to ask if I could be seated at the back of the room. So I suggest, before you start studying on campus, that you meet with someone at the school to explain your ostomy needs. It would have been much easier if I planned ahead instead of asking questions and giving explanations later on.

2. Find a backpack that's right for you.

One thing that is super important when studying on campus is making sure that you are supported in not only bathrooms on campus, but also having the right essentials to help you get through the day. Hopefully your doctors and ostomy nurse have discussed the importance of hernia prevention because having an ostomy puts you at greater risk. Use techniques that will help eliminate heavy lifting; here are a few ideas:

  • Comfortable and at the right height. A backpack that causes you to hunch forward could create problems.
  • Invest in a backpack with wheels when you have a lot to carry. Books can be really heavy, I know.
  • Reduce the weight of your backpack by carrying lighter items in your hand.

3. Carry along an emergency ostomy kit.

There's one thing you should always do, and that is every time you leave the house make sure you take ostomy supplies with you. The last thing you want is be away from home without extra supplies and have a leak or accident. Carry along enough ostomy supplies for a few changes.

4. Keep healthy snacks on hand.

Going without food for long hours seems to create more gas in my ostomy pouch. Eating small snacks regularly keeps my energy up and digestive system working smoothly. If you’re planning on packing fresh foods (like fruit, vegetable and yogurt) you’ll want to keep them refrigerated in a small or personal cooler.

5. Stay hydrated throughout the day.

The one thing that I need each day is water and electrolytes to help replace fluids lost throughout the day. When I started studying on campus last year the classrooms had no air conditioning. It was hot, it was gross, and it was making me feel sick. Thankfully, I always carry a refreshing cold beverage - it's important to stay hydrated!