LIFE WITH OSTOMY

Life After Colostomy,Ileostomy and Urostomy Operation

You can eat whatever you want if you have an ostomy

Have a favorite dish? If you've been given the OK from your doctor to resume your regular diet, eat what you like. If you have a colostomy or ileostomy, you'll find that various foods affect your digestive tract differently.

Just as some foods gave you gas before your surgery, you'll likely experience gas with certain foods now that you have an ostomy. While you may choose to eat gas-causing foods sparingly or only at times when the gas won't make you self-conscious such as when you're at home, rather than at work. it doesn't mean you shouldn't ever eat gas-causing foods.

Certain foods are more likely to cause gas, diarrhea, constipation, incomplete digestion or urine odor. But which ones have these effects will depend on your body.

If you're unsure how foods will affect you, consider trying them at home, one at a time, before eating them in public. Knowing how each food affects your digestion means you'll spend less time worrying about the food's effects and more time having fun with friends.

It may help to chew your food thoroughly and drink plenty of water.

Common intestinal reactions to certain foods

Gas

Asparagus, beans, beer, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carbonated beverages, cauliflower, onions, peas

Incomplete digestion

Apple peels, cabbage, celery, coconut, corn, dried fruit, mushrooms, nuts, pineapple, popcorn, seeds, skins from fruits, skins from vegetables

Thickened stool

Applesauce, bananas, cheese, pasta, rice, peanut butter (creamy), potato (without skin), tapioca

Thinned stool

Fried foods, grape juice, high-sugar foods, prune juice, spicy foods

Increased odor

Alcohol, asparagus, broccoli, dried beans, eggs, fish, garlic, onions, peas

Reduced odor

Buttermilk, cranberry juice, parsley, yogurt

Increased odor

Alcohol, asparagus, broccoli, dried beans, eggs, fish, garlic, onions, peas

Reduced odor

Buttermilk, cranberry juice, parsley, yogurt

 

If you have a urostomy, you might be concerned about urine odor. Certain foods can cause a stronger urine odor, but you can minimize that by drinking water or cranberry juice.

Controlling urine odor

Increases odor

Asparagus, fish, garlic, onions

Decreases odor

Eight to 10 glasses of water, cranberry juice or other noncaffeinated beverages daily

 

You can participate in sports if you have an ostomy

Unless your favorite hobby is a contact sport with lots of potential for injury, you'll be free to go back to the activities you enjoy after you heal from ostomy surgery. The main danger is injury to the opening where waste or urine leaves your body (stoma), which means rough sports may be out.

If you want to continue these pursuits, ask your doctor or ostomy nurse about special products you can use and precautions you can take to protect your stoma during these activities.

Check with your doctor before you begin lifting weights after your surgery. You may need to wait for your surgical incision to heal before lifting weights, to reduce your risk of complications. Once you're fully healed, your doctor or an ostomy nurse might recommend a device to support your abdomen when lifting weights.

If you're nervous that running, swimming or other athletic activity will loosen your ostomy bag and cause a leak, use a special belt or binder to hold your ostomy bag in place.

You can go back to work if you have an ostomy

You'll need time after your surgery to heal and recover, but you can eventually go back to work. You might choose to ease back into work or talk with your employer about a limited schedule until you feel more confident with your ostomy.

If your line of work involves manual labor or lots of lifting, your doctor may recommend ways to protect your stoma on the job.

Consider going back to work once you're feeling well. If you're nervous about caring for your ostomy at work, talk to your doctor or an ostomy nurse.

Don't let worrying get the best of you. Returning to work is a good way to transition back to a normal routine, and working again can make you feel good about yourself.

You can hide your ostomy

To you, the ostomy bag attached to you is very obvious. When you look in the mirror, you notice the bag under your clothes. You might think every gurgle and noise coming from your stoma is loud and heard by everyone in the room.

Most people won't notice your ostomy unless you tell them about it. As you get used to your ostomy, you'll figure out tips and tricks to keep the bag concealed and the noises to a minimum. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Empty your ostomy bag when it gets to be one-third full. That way it won't bulge under your clothes.
  • Work with your ostomy nurse to find the ostomy pouching system that works best for you.
  • If you're worried about the odor when emptying your ostomy bag, ask your ostomy nurse to minimize odor.

Ask a close friend or loved one whose opinion you trust whether your ostomy bag is visible under your clothes or if the sounds your ostomy makes are as loud as you think they are. Everyone's body makes noises and produces odors from time to time. While it can be embarrassing, don't let a fear of what could go wrong keep you from going about your day.

You can wear whatever you want if you have an ostomy

No clothing is off-limits if you have an ostomy. However, your individual body contour and your stoma's location may make some clothes less comfortable. For instance, tight waistbands or belts might feel restrictive over your stoma. Be open to experimenting with different styles of clothes.

But don't let your ostomy keep you from wearing tightfitting clothes or even your bathing suit. Look into ostomy swimsuits and trunks, which can be found through specialty retailers.

You can go wherever you want if you have an ostomy

It will take some pre-trip planning, but having an ostomy shouldn't prevent you from traveling. If you'll be traveling by airplane, bring extra ostomy supplies and pack them in both your carry-on and checked bags.

Consider carrying a statement from your doctor about your ostomy. This note might explain why you have an ostomy and ask airport security screeners to respect your privacy during searches.

Talk to others with ostomies

Get in touch with other people with ostomies. Whether it's a support group in your community or online, getting advice from people who've been there is a great way to boost your confidence. You can ask questions that you might be embarrassed to ask your doctor or nurse. And you can get tips to help you adapt to life with an ostomy.