Exercise is good for everyone. What you can do now really just depends on what you did before. Swimming and walking are both great low-impact ways to keep fit and keep your energy levels up. Just remember that taking up sport again should be a gradual process. Talk to your ostomy nurse for advice on how to reduce the risk of getting a hernia.
- Try before you buy. There is specialist swimwear available, but it should not be necessary
- A one-piece swimsuit with detailing or patterns can help hide the ostomy pouch
- Swimwear with a panel across the stomach can provide extra support.
- Sarongs are great for covering up on the beach
- Layering a pair of lycra or stretch material swimming trunks underneath shorts will help hold your stoma pouch in place.
- Apply suntan lotion only after you’ve applied your pouch, as creams and oils may affect the prevent the barrier from sticking properly.
You don’t need to follow a special diet, but just like anyone else, some foods may cause gas or just not suit you.
If you think a particular food is causing problems, try cutting it out for a while – then reintroduce it into your diet later. If you do this three times with any suspect food, you’ll know if it’s really causing an issue.
Chewing your food really well before swallowing aids digestion. In addition, charcoal tablets from the pharmacy can help avoid gas, as can peppermint and fennel tea. Yogurt and yogurt drinks can help some people too.
Foods that can cause gas include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, beans (green and baked), onions, garlic, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, sweet corn and peas.
As before your surgery, how much fluid you drink will affect the consistency of your output. It’s very individual, but many people find fizzy drinks and beer tend to cause gas. Water, squash and fruit juice are better than tea and coffee, which can be dehydrating. As for alcohol, you can still have a drink as long as it doesn’t interfere with any medication.
Have a chat with your doctor or ostomy nurse if you have any concerns.
If you are suffering from constipation, adapting your diet will help. Everyone’s is different so you know what is normal for you. If you are passing gas, your stoma is working. Increasing your fluid intake will help with constipation, but if you have any discomfort or concerns please contact your specialist stoma nurse or pharmacist. If you haven’t passed stool for 3-4 days, they may recommend a laxative.
Occasionally, just like everyone else, you may suffer from a bout of diarrhea or loose stool. Don’t be too alarmed about this. A one-off episode of diarrhea may be caused by something you ate and will often resolve itself. However, three or more consecutive loose stools are a cause for concern as you risk becoming dehydrated. At this point, you should consult your ostomy nurse.
Once you have a better idea of the types of foods that suit you, there’s no reason not to enjoy eating out again.
Start with a familiar restaurant and keep it simple – something like a pizza. When ordering, you don’t have to be too over-cautious, just sensible. Order what you want but be aware that rich foods and sauces may cause a problem.
If you’re concerned about particular types of food, try them out at home first so you know how you’re going to react, and then add them to your diet gradually.
If you normally have a drink at home, start with a smaller version of your usual, e.g. a small beer rather than a large one. This will help your body build up your tolerance to alcohol again.
Whether it’s a quiet drink in your local bar, a meal out with your partner or going out with friends, nothing should stop you from enjoying all the social events that you were doing before your operation.
It may be helpful to set yourself small targets to start with. It could be something as simple as using a public restroom for the first time, visiting a restaurant or relative or planning a day away. Before long, you will be thinking about booking a holiday or even going out dancing.
When you meet new people, you don’t have to tell them about your condition, unless you are comfortable doing that. It’s entirely up to you.
Having any type of operation can affect how you look and feel about your body. Try and accept that it will take time to adjust. It’s not just about your stoma but your whole body.
Sexual activity doesn’t put you at risk of damaging your stoma and most people are able to resume a healthy sex life. It is natural to feel nervous so only do what feels comfortable, take your time and talk to your partner.
There are small ostomy pouches that can be used during intimate moments. Call Coloplast Consumer Care to discuss options for intimacy, or explore sample options online.