For many people the idea of having a colostomy is daunting and unpleasant. Many people worry about losing their independence and being able to carry out everyday activities, as well as being concerned about the ability to travel and feeling insecure in social situations. Unlike early models, colostomy bags or pouches are very discreet now. There are also odour controlled models available so people do not have to worry about the smell of their colostomy bag.
A normal life
Generally most people who have colostomies should be able to carry out all the everyday activities they engaged in prior to the operation. You may have to adapt your daily routine slightly but there is no reason why you can’t do most things you did before. The colostomy pouch has to be emptied on a regular basis; most people find it helpful to have a set routine for when they empty their bags; this way it is easier to organise your day especially if you want to plan activities or meet up with friends for example.
There are some recommendations designed to make life easier after having a colostomy; these include monitoring your diet in the early stages to reduce the amount of high fibre foods and checking the medication you are on; some medication dissolves very slowly which can be difficult when part or all of the colon has been removed. You should discuss any medication you are on with your GP or consultant. It is also recommended that you do some light exercise following a colostomy; this is to strengthen the muscles surrounding the bowel and colon.
You may not be fit to return to work for a period of time after a colostomy, particularly if you are suffering from a serious illness; you should try to discuss this with your employer as early as possible.
If you wish to travel it is recommended that you obtain a RADAR key from the Colostomy Association; this will enable you to access disabled toilets. When travelling abroad it may be beneficial to take extra supplies as there may not be sufficient provisions in the country you are visiting. The Colostomy Association is also able to offer support and practical advice for those who want more information about having a colostomy or those who are struggling to cope with having a colostomy.