Having a stoma has both mental and physical challenges especially at the beginning of your journey and finding your way with your stoma.

A lot of these challenges were in my head. How I thought something was going to be, and I found by facing these challenges head on helped me over come them.

When you first have your stoma you have many questions floating around your head like, will I be able to wear what I did before?, will I be able to go on holidays in the sun and into the pool? Can I eat certain foods? Can I play contact sports? Will people notice it? Etc etc. and this is all pretty normal to feel and think these thoughts.

My first challenge was telling people. I found it really hard to talk about and explain to people I had it and how it worked. As mine was an emergency surgery and I wasn’t prepared beforehand for the stoma bag, no one knew. I couldn’t even talk about it without crying so I knew I needed help. I attended CPD counselling and started up my Instagram page. Speaking to other ostomates really helped and gave me a lot

Of support and encouragement to speak to close family members about my stoma. This helped me open up more then to others. Having someone that has went through what you have and fully understands the impact is so Important and being able to message other ostomates and ask their opinion was amazing for me.

My next challenge was leaving the house and using public toilets I really struggled with this. I was constantly afraid my stoma bag might leak or that it would fill and I would have to empty it in a public toilet. My way of overcoming this was to just do it. I started by leaving the house for short periods of times and always having someone with me. I gradually realised that I could trust my stoma products. I always brought my emergency kit just incase and once I emptied my bag in the public toilets I soon realised it wasn’t that bad.

Going on holidays and travelling through the airport was another challenge I had to face. I have now done this many times and haven’t had an issues but my way of over coming this was to ensure I was well prepared. This started by getting my travel certificate from my stoma nurse, a copy of my script and extra supplies ordered from respond. I then packed half in my hand luggage and half on my case. I wore my sunflower lanyard which represents invisible disabilities to highlight this to the staff at the airport. It was also reassuring to know that respond offer global assistance and definitely helped my confidence when travelling but again it was just facing this head on and doing it.

This is just some of the challenges I overcame throughout my stoma journey but my advice would be to just do it! It always seems worse in your head and you will only talk yourself out of things due to overthinking them. You will find your challenges change the further down your journey and things that you once would have seen as a challenge will become second nature. Try and trust the process and don’t let your stoma bag hold you back.

Maryrose
@big_c_stomaandme

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