That you wake up one day and your life has undergone a 360-degree change is what people with an ostomy experience; in my case, as a result of an aggressive ulcerative colitis diagnosed in my 20s that never made me think that I would have to share my life with a pouch attached to my abdomen. An ostomy pouch that for a long time I loved and hated in equal parts but with which I knew I was obliged to understand myself.
My name is Gloria, I was born in Seville and until I was 29 years old, my life was the same as that of any other young person: family, friends, fun, studies, travel, love… However, that year, after an emergency operation, the stoma would become my life companion, initially temporarily and since 6 years ago, permanently, as an ostomy.
In Spain there are more than 100,000 of us who are attached to a stoma and although there is no doubt that the ostomy pouch is life, it is also a hard reality to accept and an arduous road to travel.
The physical acceptance of the new situation is a process that we all go through. Doubts, fears and uncertainties become fellow travelers after ostomy surgery.
I believe that many ostomates have felt the same. At first, when you are still in the hospital, you are not yet very aware of your new situation. You feel protected and cared for at all times by the doctors and nursing staff. Your new situation still feels far away and you do not know how you will live with your ostomy pouch.
However, you are discharged from the hospital and go home. The first days of “contact” with your stoma arrive. Alone and without intermediaries. At that moment the ups and downs begin, the days of frustration, of impotence, of fears: what device is better for you, what should you eat, what can I do and what not, will I be able to be intimate with someone, the change in your image that can be devastating and without a doubt, one of the biggest fears of an ostomate, that of leaks. Only a person with an ostomy pouch can understand the stress and uncertainty that this situation can cause.
Don’t worry, don’t worry. In spite of having lived sad moments, of anxiety and frustration, another phase will come, in which you go from being sick to being a healthy person again. Sometimes, to reach this phase it will be necessary to have help, both from professionals and from your family. Do not deny yourself that support and affection that we all need in the moments of adaptation to the new situation.
Stability and tranquility will enter your life and you will feel complete again, you will recover your self-confidence and you will realize that the time you used to spend thinking about the worries that your ostomy bag caused you, now you spend it thinking about doing your activities and your daily routines. You will have normalized your situation and your ostomy pouch will be perfectly integrated in your daily life.
The ostomy pouch is the best option you have to give way to another wonderful vital stage that awaits you after the previous hard moments.
In the following pages, we are going to make recommendations about what an ostomy is and everything it entails in the life of an ostomate. We will try to answer many of your questions about the ostomy and we will offer advice or recommendations to better manage the new situation and cope as best as possible with the adaptation to the new situation.
The information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for a medical consultation with your medical team. Each case is different for each patient and that is why it is always important to consult with your doctor and/or your dental therapist. They will know better than anyone else how to answer your questions satisfactorily.