Christmas With Short Bowel Syndrome And Severe Strictures

Jen November image

Hello again SecuriCare Blog Readers, and Merry Christmas!

I hope you all are as well as possible and are able to enjoy the holidays this year. It has been a challenging year for everyone, and we all deserve some happiness and time to celebrate!

I am entering the festive season with some new challenges that I didn’t have this time last year.

I was diagnosed with short bowel syndrome in February when I lost half of my small intestine alongside all of my large intestine last October during surgery. This means I have had to change my diet completely, and it affects what and how much I can drink too, in the hopes of avoiding more blockages or dehydration which would lead to hospital admissions.

I have spent this year adapting to my low residue, stricture friendly diet and working to drink the correct amount of fluids to stay stable. This Christmas will be very different for me, on top of the challenges of the pandemic, I am trying to be proactive and in control of my body so I can hopefully spend the festive season at home. I’ve had eight hospital admissions this year and spent over a quarter of the year in hospital which has been really difficult as I’ve been alone for most of that time due to the visiting restrictions… I want to avoid spending Christmas alone too!

Below is a list of the things I’m doing to stay as healthy as possible.

If you’re an ostomate in a similar situation, I hope this list can help you in some way!

  1. I will be prepping food in advance to ensure there is the least amount of disruption on Christmas Day.

I can’t have all of the usual trimmings this year so I will have turkey like my family, but I will have very soft, steamed carrots and mashed potatoes instead of roasted parsnips, glazed carrots and roast potatoes. I’ll cook them about five days beforehand and freeze them so on Christmas it will be easy to microwave and serve at the same time as the traditional dinners! I’ll also be stocking up on easily digestible snacks like salted crisps and plain milk chocolate as dried fruits and nuts are not allowed at all due to my strictures. Instead of Christmas pudding I’ll be having an ice cream or mousse dessert and those little changes should help me stay comfortable and not cause any additional pain with digestion.

2. I will be limiting my alcohol intake and what I drink.

Everyone enjoys a little tipple on Christmas and just because I have an ileostomy, Crohn’s and short bowel syndrome doesn’t mean I have to completely rule out a drink too. I do however have some rules I stick by which help me avoid dehydration and a hangover! I always stick to one type of alcohol per event, this means I can stick to wine or gin for example, but not mix them on the same day. I will more than likely have Buck’s Fizz with dinner then have a couple of glasses of wine over the course of the night. I also won’t have more than four alcoholic drinks in one day and I will be ensuring I drink one pint of non-alcoholic fluid in between my alcohol so I’m not dehydrating.

3. I’ll be pre-emptively changing my stoma bag to avoid leaks.

    I will change my ileostomy bag on Christmas morning, wear a hernia support wrap all day and change my bag again before bed. I’ll use my high output bags since there will be much more food than normal and alcohol increases my output drastically – I don’t want to spend all of my day emptying my pouch!

    4. I’ll ensure my Christmas related activities and presents are finished early, so I can spend Christmas Eve relaxing.

      I get extremely tired when I have a busy day since I don’t absorb all of the nutrition I require, and I would normally nap for a few hours each day, but on Christmas I won’t have time to, so being well-rested on Christmas Eve should allow me to enjoy the excitement of the following day.

      5. I’ll try not to stress-out if it doesn’t go to plan!

        You can only prepare so much when it comes to chronic illnesses, but it is inevitable that something won’t go to plan. I’m not going to let it ruin my day though and I’ll be doing my best to enjoy Christmas no matter what that looks like this year. Even if there is an issue, I’m sure we’ll still have a great day!

        I hope you all have a merry Christmas and happy New Year, with a happy and healthy 2021!

        If you’d like information on diet with a stoma over the Christmas period take a look at this blog from one of our Stoma Care Nurses, Christmas with a stoma.

        by Jen McGregor

        Jen McGregor

        About the author

        I'm Jen, I've had Crohn's Disease for more than 10 years and have a permanent ileostomy. I love all things fashion, animals and travelling. I'm also a student, a vlogger, and I have a dream to bring my adaptable clothing line CrohnieClothing to the masses.

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