4 Months into the Return of “Normal Life”

September is here 2

“Be confident! We deserve to feel included and ensure that facilities match our needs”

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Wow, what a few months it has been! In my last blog, I spoke about starting my new job In May, I’ve now been at that job for 4 months, time has flown by! Returning to work full time, after only working 30 hours and working from home since my surgery has been a bit of a shock to the system. I absolutely love my job, but I’m still getting used to the work life balance that is essential in our lives. I’ve found it difficult to not feel busy all the time but one thing I do know is that I love a challenge, my body has been through much worse, so I know that I’ll be able to get through this!

One thing I worried about when returning to work was how I would be with my stoma. I hadn’t really had a lot of time to get used to “normal life” with my stoma before the UK was put into lockdown and working from home made stoma life feel much more comfortable and accessible.

Working from home meant that if I felt that my stoma had leaked, I was able to go and change my bag almost immediately. Having the flexibility to do this made me feel more at ease and I liked that I didn’t have to worry about trying to awkwardly balance everything I needed to use on a loo roll holder in a cubicle.

Since returning to work, there’s been a few occasions where I’ve felt irritation around my stoma, and I’ve had to change my bag. Initially I was worried about how long it would take to change my bag, but it’s been fine! I’ve had a fair amount of practice now, so I’ve pretty much got the whole bag change process down to a fine art.

Like many ostomates, I always carry a ‘just in case’ bag with me. My bag of supplies is small and discreet and fits inside my usual handbag. I like to make sure my ‘just in case’ supplies are stocked up with all my usual bag changing supplies such as my favourite LBF No Sting Barrier Wipes and Appeel Adhesive Remover Spray. I always like to pack a few stoma bags as sometimes the first attempt doesn’t always sit right, and I like the security of knowing I still have extras to use if this is the case.

Another thing I’ve found tricky in my new job is the food. We’re very lucky that we get lunch provided, but this means that it isn’t in my control if the “safe foods” I’d normally eat aren’t available. There have been a few occasions where unfortunately nothing on the menu has been suitable for me to eat. However, we have amazing catering staff and I simply spoke to them about my dietary requirements, they were very understanding, and they now always have an option of some pasta (one of my “safe foods”) which I find helpful and makes me feel like I’m seen and included.

I’ve told a few people at my new job about my stoma, just as and when they might need to know, or I might decide to mention it in conversation when they want to get to know me better. I feel more and more confident in talking about my stoma with other people and it gets easier the more I speak openly about it. 2 years ago, after my surgery, I didn’t feel this way, so if you’re worried about mentioning your stoma to people, just give it time!

When I found out I had a new job, I was so excited, but I was also worried too! I wanted to share my experience of going into a new job to hopefully help you with any new battles that you may face. I look back over the last 4 months and luckily my stoma hasn’t really caused me any issues, so I know there’s no need to be worried.

If you’re starting anything new, a job or new school or university, my top tip is to be confident within yourself. You are never too much trouble. If you need to ask for foods or to use the disabled bathroom to change your bag, be confident! We deserve to feel included and ensure that facilities match our needs.

Sarah :)

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by Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith

About the author

I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 16 and underwent emergency surgery in April 2019 which left me with an ileostomy. I love my life with a stoma and my aim is to spread positivity and awareness about IBD/stomas by giving realistic points of view from my journey so far. You can follow me on Instagram.

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