International Women’s Day is just around the corner on March 8th, and this year we want to focus on driving change for all women, especially in the ostomy community, by using their voice to help spread awareness about important women’s health topics, which may not have been discussed pre-surgery.
Our Voices panel member, Rachel (@gutsy.mum), has shared with us this brilliant blog post all about the women who inspire her, and the importance of talking about issues female ostomates may experience.
We hope you enjoy, and if you would like any further advice please do not hesitate to contact us or your stoma care nurse.
International Women’s Day 2022
Our day has come! We deserve it, we are pretty awesome after all. I was raised by a wonderful woman and surrounded by equally wonderful beings in the form of friends, colleagues and family members. My socials are filled with inspiring ostomates, that continue to raise awareness and speak out about topics which for some may feel too vulnerable to share. Today isn’t about feeling like you have to do the same, but taking the reminder to use your voice in the capacity that you feel comfortable to do so. Respond Healthcare Ltd have created a safe space to give your opinions and suggestions on what is important to you in the form of the #BeTheChange Insights Community. All it takes is clicking the link and completing a short survey for your chance to use your voice. It provides the opportunity for those that don’t feel comfortable doing it on a public scale to feel heard, which as a company they are the experts in. Listening to ostomates is what they do best, using it to inform and help us as a result. The theme for this year is:
Imagine a gender equal world.
A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Together we can forge women’s equality.
Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.
As a woman, having stoma surgery creates many more possible changes to adapt to following ostomy surgery. Surely if we are to create a bias free culture, the struggles we will face following surgery should be acknowledged and supported in order to create equality in our recovery and give us the tools to have a successful outcome? Our fun monthly gift is the one I wish I had asked about during my consultation prior to surgery. Some women may experience heavy bleeding, some a delay in their periods altogether. Your mental health as a result can feel like it is spiraling as you deal with both acceptance of your new body and the change in hormones as your body has to regulate itself following the trauma of surgery. During consultations many women I have spoken to have said this was never mentioned, and I know when I speak for myself that I never thought to ask as it was the last thing on my mind. Sounds stupid on reflection, but when you are mentally preparing yourself for such a change you can’t remember everything, and if you take anything from reading this blog, ASK THE QUESTIONS! Any little thing that comes into your mind, ask, and if you don’t get an answer, ask again. Shout if you need to! You owe it to your body and your recovery to be prepared and informed.
Essentials to bring post-surgery include sanitary products, maternity pads to be prepared for anything! Pop them close to the bed to get yourself or for a nurse to get too easily if help is needed. Peppermint tea or an alternative can be brilliant for bloating. Your menstrual cycle can change as a result of surgery. If time allows, keep a diary of what is typical for you so you can compare and present at a doctor’s appointment should you wish to be reviewed and something is worrying you. During your period your stoma can become larger than normal. Certainly something men don’t have to dealt with on a monthly basis either.
Until next time, Rach x
Thank you once again to Rachel for sharing with us wonderful blog, emphasising the importance of using your voice, and empowering others. 💚 Make sure to check out Rachel’s Instagram page @gutsy.mum to keep up to date with Rachel and her ostomy journey. For more information and to get involved this International Women’s Day, head to their website by clicking here, and help #BreakTheBias for a gender equal world.