Although January 2024 is flying by already, the year ahead can feel daunting for some with an ostomy, but it can also feel exciting. Depending on why you had your ostomy, a new year may present a good opportunity for you to reflect on having an ostomy  and if there’s anything you can change or want to look into to hopefully make ostomy life easier. Or you may be happy with how ostomy  life is going and want to find ways to challenge yourself. However big or small, your reflections for the year just passed and goals for the year ahead are very much your own. Just like ostomy life itself, everyone is different.

In this blog post, I am going to reflect on how 2023 with an ostomy was for me and also look forward to the year ahead.

Challenges with an ostomy

For me, every year comes with its challenges when it comes to having an ostomy. Thankfully, they have all been manageable barring one ongoing one at the moment. That’s being low on iron and struggling with fatigue! I’m pretty much always going in circles with my iron levels, even on liquid iron medication since I had surgery in 2011. Other challenges have been:

  • Itchy and sore skin – Respond have products to help with this
  • Feeling less hydrated, especially in hot weather – I have dealt with this my drinking more squash and drinks with rehydration solution/dissolvable tablets in
  • Travel anxiety – This goes back to after my surgery and being sick. The trauma makes me fear being sick so much that I get nervous about travelling, particularly abroad. It’s usually a fear for me if I’m travelling somewhere foreign, I can’t get off that method of transport for said time and I don’t speak the language either
  • Concerns surrounding pregnancy with an ostomy – this is something I can maybe go into another blog if/when I’m ready to talk about it

Achievements with an ostomy

I see every day as an achievement with my ostomy as it’s one more day I’ve been alive that I wouldn’t have had without it. I always try and find gratitude for even the most simple things in daily life like waking up. Looking back on 2023, I achieved so so much that I wouldn’t have been able to do without my ostomy, including:

  • Travelling to Paris with my husband for honeymoon
  • Starting a new job working for a digestive health charity – my disease sparked my interest in guts and I’m so passionate about helping others
  • More holidays exploring the UK with my husband, our dog and loved ones and travelling the country for work and pleasure
  • Going to my singing lessons and performing live
  • Being a bridesmaid for one of my best friends
  • Enjoying long walks and trips to the beach
  • Putting on and maintaining weight
  • Going to music gigs – such a big part of my life
  • Wearing the clothes I love
  • Enjoying new foods
  • The list goes on…

Life with an ostomy isn’t a walk in the park…

…but it’s a walk in the park I can take part in and enjoy 90% of the time. My ostomy not only saved my life, but gave me my life back and enabled me to do so much and make so many amazing memories, as much as I do get my bad days from time to time.

Looking forward to the year ahead

I don’t set resolutions as such in the New Year. For me, they set an unhealthy amount of pressure and are a set up for feeling bad about yourself if for whatever reason you can’t do them. I try to more set intentions and things I want to slowly feed into my life or carry on doing. This way, I know that these things are more realistic when you take my health into account and fatigue too and I don’t punish myself if I can’t stick to a solid, often unrealistic set of goals.

This year, in general, I’d like to:

  • Go to more music concerts/gigs to see my favourite artists
  • Sing live again
  • Keep on with my reading and set time aside each night to read before bed
  • Explore more of the UK with my husband and our dog
  • Protect my peace and my space better
  • Walk more each day
  • Drink more squash/water
  • Keep working hard in my job and on my own social media, helping people where I can
  • Do more yoga or running

Respond’s useful advice and support

Respond have a blog full of posts from other ostomates on their website, useful advice and information to help you live life with an ostomy this season. It also enables you to see how ostomy life affects people differently.

However you’re intending the year ahead to look, life has its way of delivering twists and turns and ups and downs. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try and take each day as it comes. You don’t have to have it all planned out. You’ve got this!

Thank you for reading!