Living with an ostomy will take some adjustment. In the first few weeks following surgery, you may find yourself feeling confused, angry, sad or frustrated. These are normal post-surgery feelings and should diminish as you adjust to life with a stoma.
Here are some guidelines that may help ease difficult feelings:
- Be patient: Don't be too hard on yourself. Some days will be better than others. In time, you will feel like yourself again.
- Keep talking: Keep communication open with a loved ones and your ostomy nurse. You may find that discussing your feelings makes you feel better.
- Try to stay active and in good company: With your doctor’s permission, take up a new hobby or get involved with an activity group.
- Express yourself creatively: Some people find that writing, painting, drawing or doing other crafts can be energizing, offer an alternate outlet for difficult feelings, and help focus the mind.
- Be on the lookout for depression: Though it is normal to feel sad or “blue” for a week or two after surgery, these feelings should go away as you heal. If these feelings worsen, or you have any of the following symptoms, talk to your doctor or ostomy nurse right away. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you will start feeling better.
Be on the lookout for signs of depression:
- Prolonged feelings of sadness
- Thoughts of suicide
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- Feelings of isolation
- Lack of interest in activities you normally enjoy
Other “feel better” ideas for your recovery:
- Become a well-educated consumer
The more you know, the easier it is to make important decisions about your health. Your ostomy nurse is your first resource. You can also find useful information from ostomy support groups and associations. The me+ program is a great place to start.
- Talk to other people living with an ostomy, as well as their loved ones
Other people successfully living with an ostomy can help you understand you’re not alone in your recovery. They may also offer helpful tips, or additional insight into what to expect as living with a stoma becomes normal for you.
- Consider joining a local or online support group
Your ostomy nurse or local ostomy association chapter can make suggestions and put you in touch, or visit www.ostomy.org.
- me+ community
An online community, created especially for people living with an ostomy to share information, support and encouragement. Membership is just a few clicks away.