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 a brand new ostomate and concerned about becoming a full-time student. Here are some tips and products that helped make my life at school easier.

1. Meet with your 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 of school before realizing I needed assistance. There were some desks that sat right at the height of my stoma which was uncomfortable and painful. I also wanted to sit towards the back 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. Before you start class, I suggest meeting 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 have 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 a stoma can put you at greater risk. Here are a few ideas that will help eliminate heavy lifting:

  • 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 extra ostomy supplies with you. The last thing you want is to be away from home 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 snacks throughout the day keeps my energy up and digestive system working smoothly. If you’re planning on packing fresh foods (like fruit, vegetable or 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 beverages because it's important, especially for ileostomates, to stay hydrated.