How to Help an Ostomate in Overcoming Ostomy Challenges?

Living with a digestive system’s disease, injury, or infection is the biggest challenge, but many people do not want to get a stoma in their abdomen, they think that their life will go to start degrading after this surgery. No wonder this is a challenging phase of anyone’s life who has to go through the ostomy operation. But, it brings comfort and quality in the life of a patient. Imagine spending a life without cancer or any other digestive tract disease, it is a relief. As a patient who will come across a few challenges and adjustments; however, with the time you will overcome all these situations. Moreover, with the guideline and assistance of your medical staff, you can enhance your lifestyle and live a normal life.

Being an ostomy patient, the surgery will have some affects on your living style, diet routine, and psychology, but there are many pre-operative and post-operative psychological sessions for the patients to live a better life and decrease the surgery pressures. Moreover, many organizations offer ostomates classes on upgrading the lifestyle, care routine, hygiene procedures, and emotional tackling after the ostomy operation.

In a pre-operative meeting, the team of ostomy will guide a patient regarding the changes and adjustments in the clothing style, lifestyle, hygiene methods, and changes in the diet. Thus, for every patient attending this session is compulsory. This meeting will guide you about meeting the daily challenges, tackling the stoma appliances, and spent a normal life. Moreover, this session is necessary for your families, they will learn how to deal with the ostomate and what space they need, how to deal with their mood swings and other emotional changes they will endure.

One of the biggest problems or challenges an ostomate face is the selection of the right pouching system for their stoma. Being an ET nurse, you should help your patients in overcoming this problem. You are the one who can assess the right size, shape, and style of the opening, then you teach your ostomy patient what should they wear and from where they can buy these tools. Every stoma does not support a one-piece pouching system, the same is the case with a two-piece pouching system. Many ostomates end up buying the wrong devices for their new organ, it happens because they do not have enough knowledge about the appropriate tools and appearance of their stoma. In the hospital, the surgeon and nurse must guide a patient abut their stoma and if they can wear a one-piece pouching system or two-piece ostomy pouching system.

Patient’s Physical Abilities

Before selecting the appropriate and final ostomy devices for a patient, you should know the physical abilities of the ostomates. Many patients are old or have arthritis disease, they cannot hold a one-piece pouching system or other tools like flanges and barrier. Thus, you should guide them regarding other options and facilities provided by the ostomy organizations and suppliers. Some patients do not hold the scissors; thus, you should provide them the tools that have a pre-opening cut in the pouch. In these devices, a patient does not need a cutter or scissors to make a hole. Therefore, the wear, drain, and take off the ostomy pouching system becomes easy for them.

Emotional and Psychological Adjustments

After having a new organ in the abdomen of a patient, a person has to go through many challenges. It leaves an impact on their mind, emotions, behavior, and lifestyle. They need to tackle these things; thus, they need help and support. The hospital staff is the one who is primarily responsible for guiding them about the changes and adjustments. Guide your ostomates about the regaining of sense of responsibility, control, and managing life.

Fast Break with a Stoma

You may think I am talking about slamming on the breaks and feeling the seatbelt crush your stoma, but I am not talking about that.  Instead I am talking about sprinting as fast as you can down the court, in between defenders and maneuvering around to make that sweet shot at the end of the buzzer. Well I am talking about playing basketball with a Stoma of Course.  Having an ostomy is not a life changing experience. Well some may say it is, but most of life is really the same and the things that you did before you can mostly still do, unless for some reason your Doctor says otherwise.  And in that case listen to your Doctor for sure.  But I grew up in the midwest and basketball is life. So I just wanted to go over my experience with playing it and also having a stoma.

Injuries are a part of life and especially part of sports. I can not really think of a time where I felt 100% on the basketball court when I was playing in high school or college.  One thing that many people would never believe if I told them was that I had an ostomy.  Yes, indeed it is possible to play and to thrive at basketball even with that kind of life changing body alteration. 

So to be completely honest most people never knew I had one.  It is not something you can hide in a locker room, but my team didn’t care and didn’t give me crap about it.  It was simply a part of who I was and so is basketball.  Now I did not go pro nor did I have the talent to do so but I love the game.  The strategy and skill it takes to keep up with the best is truly amazing and the strength and smoothness of really great players is miraculous.

But even if you are a regular person who just likes to play on the weekends or a pick up game of 21 every few months in the summer basketball is still available to you even if you have a stoma.  Personally, I like to use an ostomy bag that has loops and is a little smaller. I like to put an elastic belt on it to keep it secure when I am fast breaking or blocking a shot.  These are the areas that I find strain your stoma the most because you are stretching your body and putting some effort in while doing it.  So being flexible and having a good seal on your gear is key.  You don’t want any leaks and no one else does either.

So get good gear and also get good clothing.  If you play basketball then you probably are obsessed with shoes. I know I am and I like to make sure they will keep my ankles safe and my feet gripping super well.  But I am really talking about good ostomy gear from a good brand and also good clothing to moisture wick away the sweat. I don’t like cotton and suggest you stay far away from it.  Polyester is really moisture wicking and like to wear that mostly, but in some cases it prints the bag a lot so be careful. Get lose clothing so you don’t freak people out. Now go fast break away and have fun!

Ostomies and Jet Skis

This year was like none other. The pandemic has brought about so much fear and changes in our economy it is mind boggling.  I still made sure to not let all the madness and regulations get me or my family down.  Luckily the state we were visiting still had a pretty open policy about being outside with family and we were able to do a nice beach trip for vacation.  One of my personal favorite things to do on a beach vacation is to jet ski.  This always scares lots of people because they know I have a stoma.  I think have an ostomy is not the end of the world when it comes to having fun and I like to push the line sometimes to show that you can do almost anything even though you have a stoma.

So I look forward every year to packing up my family and gear and heading to the beach.  Sand is still a big issue because even after get hop off the jet ski you usually end up back at the beach to swap drivers.  For me this means making sure I have the right gear and the right materials. I personally like to keep all my gear in waterproof bags or containers.  The otterbox has been a great addition for me. 

It comes in lots of shapes and sizes but the ones I like are waterproof and sealed really well. I don’t have to worry about sand or water getting in. I still put all my ostomy gear in a waterproof bag inside just incase I have issues with my hands or the wind when I open it.  I don’t want those things to get in the way and make things wet, sandy, or unclean.  I always keep hand sanitizer in the box and a towel.  This is a big help for when I need something out of it.

Now as for the fun part, I don’t find that being on a jet ski hurts me.  My abs have gone through a good amount of work to allow myself to be able to take the bumps of the jet ski.  I also don’t ride the waves as hard as I used to.  This means that I don’t jump like a 4 foot wave and take the fall.  So I am a bit more careful but I still love getting out and riding the water and flying.  I find it much more fun than a motorcycle although it is a little more tedious with the life jacket and my stoma. 

So clothing is pretty important to me when I am on the water or on the beach.  Sunburn is serious and just to make sure my stoma is safe I do wear a shirt. I don’t want a sunburn on that area and even with a stoma cap I still don’t want to risk it.  The idea of skin that is burned and having to deal with it and have a bag up against it just makes me cringe.  So I do not suggest letting that even be an option. Get UV protective clothing and then make sure it is water resistant. This will keep you from having to live on aloe for the rest of your vacation and can really help. So go out and enjoy your vacation.

Learning to Play Basketball with A Stoma

I am always a believer in sticking with what makes you happy in life.  Now as I grow up I have learned that there are many sacrifices to be made for the better of your career or family.  But there are some things that simply bring you joy and I think you should continue to focus on them if you can.  But I personally love to play basketball and I learned that I was going to have surgery and was going to end up with a stoma.  It really made me afraid that I would never get to do what I love.  Now that I am a bit older and maybe even a little wiser I found out that I am still able to have all the fun that I want playing basketball even with my stoma.  I am so happy to let people know that your life is going to be ok and that you don’t have to fear missing out on being active and happy.

There are a few things that are good to know when you are starting back out in an active lifestyle.  The first thing to know is that you are going to be more apt to have hernias.  This means that you do need to be a bit more carefully about how hard you start back to working out.  I know that it is complicated at times, but working out slowly to get back into the baskteball shape is important.  It is also important to understand your ostomy gear before going hard at any sport.  You should try out new gear and try it out close to home if you can. 

I know that all ostomy gear is not made the same and that every single body works differently.  I know that many of us focus on what our idle or hero does and if that doesnt work for us we lose hope. I want to let people know that no one is the same and that many people that I follow on social media who have stomas that do things that simply dont work for my body.  I understand that my body is not the same as theirs.  I still love seeing others do the same thign I do in different ways.  My heroes who play basketball with stomas were shoes that are different than me because they work differently for their bodies.  The same goes for many parts of ostomy gear as well.

Now I do suggest trying to ask around to see what may work for you.  I also like using online companies that make ostomy gear to get free samples.  Now I have found some amazing products and you had better bet I still order them from those companeis. But I wouldn’t ahve even been able to try if they werent free. So taking the time to check out different things is really important. I love learning waysto go harder on teh court even if thats getting a little better elastic belt to hold my bag on.  It is those little things that bring great joy to me.

I also suggest getting moister wicking clothing. I really do like to have clothes that keep my ostomy bag from printing.  It is simply a nice little thing that works. So have fun, shop around and get great gear!

Is Vacationing with a Stoma OK?

Changing children’s diapers and changing your ostomy bag all while driving 500 miles in a day and then going to a sandy beach.  Does this sound like a nightmare or a great time?  To be honest I would say it is a little of both and a great way to make memories with family or friends for a lifetime.  When you first learn that you are going to have surgery and will be living with a stoma it is really a scary time.  Your mind races and your heart just sinks. 

The thought of living with a stoma is just disheartening for many.  On the other hand, it can save lives and many people have the opposite reactions because they are going to be safe and healthy. Either way, we all feel differently and it is all OK.  At some point, selfishness kicks in and our thoughts then linger to how good we will look, and will we ever be able to vacation again.  The answer is yes, you can and will still look good and most definitely yes you can go on vacation.  So it is a journey to discover how to live with your stoma safely and it is important to plan out things for vacation.

To me, the hardest part of vacation is deciding when and where to go.  It really is that simple.  The details and complications of how many diapers to bring and how much ostomy supplies I will personally need are really secondary.  Now that was a bit of a fib because let’s face it those things do come first, but you must decide on the location and duration before the real planning can begin.  So know that if you are going to head to a sandy beach vacation that you will want to bring some extra gear. Sand and water ruin everything.  It gets everywhere and all at the least expected times.

So what gear do I bring on a beach vacation to protect my ostomy supplies?  Well, lots of things. I think waterproof gear is essential and it is also pretty cool.  For the basics, I buy a box of ziplock bags.  I like the zipper kind because I am a bit lazy and they waterproof just about as good as anything else.  I then double bag everything.  It takes a lot of zip locks but it is worth it.  Then I do it all again!  Why would I do it all twice?  Because things get lost or stolen on vacation.  Or even worse sand and water win and somehow find a way to destroy gear.  So take two sets of everything and separate them.  Pack one set in the trailer or car top carrier.  Then keep another set in the vehicle with you.  If you are flying take two sets and put one set in the suitcase and another in the carry-on. It is that important, and can save so much anxiety and sadness if something goes wrong.

Now on the beach I actually take the gear I may need in an emergency and double bag it and put it in a waterproof case or cooler.  I like Otterbox gear and find that it holds up well to beach destruction.  It seals out sand and water and if I need something I know that it will be the sand and water on me that causes an issue, not the box. So stay safe and vacation well!