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Four backpackers hiking

Physical activity

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Were you active before your stoma operation and want to stay that way? No problem.

Exercise

You should try and take some gentle exercise as soon as possible after you leave hospital. Go out for short walks every day and increase the distance gradually. Get someone to accompany you if you can, especially if you feel a bit wobbly. Do wait until after your first outpatient appointment (usually about 6 weeks after discharge) before starting formal exercise again. But remember it normally takes about 3 months for the abdominal muscles to heal completely. Check with your stoma care nurse or GP if you are unsure.

In the long-run, there is no reason why you can’t continue keeping fit by swimming, dancing, gardening or whatever it is that you enjoy doing most. The only sports that you might want to avoid are those that involve rough physical contact, such as rugby and some martial arts. It’s very easy to disguise your bag by wearing a baggy t-shirt. If you are swimming, you can use a stoma cap or a mini-pouch - you can order samples here. Products such as Hydroframe flange extenders or waterproof tape hold the flange in place, providing extra security. Remember to use a filter cover when swimming, if your pouch contains a filter.

Housework

Initially discomfort in the wound will prevent you from attempting too much at first and will act as a warning, particularly with movements that could involve bending and stretching, e.g. reaching for high shelves and pushing or pulling as in vacuuming. Standing for long periods may also prove tiring. Avoid carrying shopping or lifting anything heavy for at least 3 months after surgery.

Driving

You can usually start driving again 6-8 weeks after surgery, but this will vary according to the type of operation you have had. Ask for specific advice but do remember your movement and strength must be up to coping with an emergency stop as well as normal driving. It is also a good idea to check with your insurance company.

Back to work

How long you should wait until you go back to work will depend on the type of surgery you have had and the sort of work you do. It is better to feel completely well before you return as many people feel tired and find concentration difficult to start with. More specific advice can be given by hospital staff or your GP.

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