It is extremely common to feel upset, horrified, or even completely numb after learning that you need to have major surgery that has a major impact on your bodily functions. After your surgery you could feel several emotions - relief that you no longer have stomach symptoms, resentful that you'll have to adapt your life to having a pouch, frightened or angry that you need a stoma and perhaps insecure about being sexually intimate with your partner.
All these feelings are completely natural. Share your concerns with your partner and your stoma nurse and, with time, you will regain your confidence. Remember that many thousands of people have stomas. With time, most will return to a normal life and for many having a stoma actually improves their quality of life.
Know what you’re going to tell other people
Having a stoma doesn’t mean you need to shy away from having a social life. Pouches are very discreet so people will not know that you have one unless you tell them. You have probably met or passed by people who have stomas without realising it.
Planning and rehearsing what you tell people about your stoma will help you explain things confidently and clearly to avoid uncomfortable situations. You might tell your work colleagues, for example, that your surgery was successful and your health problems have been sorted out. You could tell your friends and family that you have a stoma that needs caring for, and which may need slight adjustment in your diet. You can talk about the practicalities of stoma care or your fears about pouch failure or sexual relationships with those who are closest to you.
Adjusting to your pouch usually happens over a period of time – everyone is different but it is not unusual for you to take a year or more to adapt completely. Remember you are not alone and that your stoma nurse has a wealth of experience of helping stoma patients and will know exactly what you are going through. You can always talk to your nurse for advice. You can also find a sympathetic ear and some practical advice on our freephone Careline. If you are a new patient, call 0800 585 125 or call 0800 318 965 if you are an existing SecuriCare Home Delivery Service customer and would like some further advice.