My concerns as an ostomate

Tips and tricks as an Ostomate

"I’ve had so many different worries about my stoma from dealing with bag leaks to travelling, but I’ve overcome all of them so far."

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Hey everyone!

So, I’ve officially been an ostomate for 14 years, how time flies!! Through the years I’ve had so many different worries about my stoma from dealing with bag leaks to travelling, but I’ve overcome all of them so far. I thought I’d share my concerns to try and help you through something if you’re worrying too!

Swimming

I will never forget the moment I was told I had 2 hours left to live if I didn’t have emergency surgery ... My first question was, can I ever go swimming again? I’ve always been a water baby and I was so worried that having a stoma would affect my ability to go swimming. Turns out I was worried for nothing, ileostomy bags have come so far now that they’re pretty waterproof, this combined with my trusty support band means that I don’t have to worry when going for a swim. I used to worry so much about getting my bag out in a public swimming pool setting, but I find that nobody pays attention and if they do, it’s a pretty good talking point!

Public Toilets

I have always hated public toilets – but then again, who actually likes them? Since having my ostomy, it’s been a total WIN in terms of toilets because you really don’t need to touch anything. Stand up, empty the bag, clean the bag, flush, and go, no sitting on gross toilet seats anymore. I thought it would be a hassle but honestly – GOD SEND!

Fitness

When I first had my surgery, I never thought I’d be able to work out again, but I can do pretty much anything. I love a good HIIT or weights session, but I’ve recently fallen in love with yoga (Check out the FREE yoga guide for ostomates from SecuriCare!). As ostomates, we’re prone to hernias if we rush things, so go slow at first and don’t push yourself. Check with your nurse to find out when you might be ready to get into exercise.

I’m so happy I can do most things now and don’t feel like my stoma holds me back in the slightest.

Foods

Going through the list of DO’s and DON’T’s in the hospital was so daunting. They basically list anything nice that you want to eat, as something you can’t! I thought I was going to be stuck eating Ready Brek for the rest of my life. I remember accidently eating a peanut and freaking out thinking I was going to end up back into hospital. Fast forward and I eat absolutely everything I want. I’m quite a chewer, so I make sure all my food is chewed well to prevent any blockages, but there is not one food group that I leave out of my diet now.

Changing The Bag

What was once a task that seemed like the hardest thing in the world, is now something that is just routine! Sure, some days it’s harder than others, but as a whole – it’s simple. I really do have the routine down to a T now. The hardest part about bag changes is, if I have lost weight (or gained), my stoma changes sizes and I always find it tricky to make sure it’s not too tight or too loose around my ileostomy. But as a whole – it’s super easy to change, even when away from home, I always just make sure that I have spare supplies with me!

Travelling with a Stoma

Something I thought I would never get to do is travel. I thought flights would be a no go, long car rides, boats, no way – I had said goodbye to holidays... How wrong was I?! Since my ileostomy surgery, I’ve been on long haul flights to Florida and New York, I’ve been on super long car trips, a cruise and even hiked up mountains. Having an ileostomy doesn’t stop you from travelling the world.

Clothing

I remember reading things online about never being able to wear jeans or a fitted shirt when you have an ileostomy and I say, HECK NO TO THAT! I live in skinny jeans and like to dress up nice in a fitted shirt. Of course, when I’m at home I want to be super comfy and wear my oversized jumpers and joggers, especially in the colder weather now. But you can wear whatever you want, as long as you’re comfy.

I am so grateful for my Ileostomy and even though I wouldn’t wish anyone to go through what I did – it’s really made me the person I am today. As humans, we adapt and overcome challenges and we find ways to live our best lives. I am living mine! Sure, some days are still harder than others – but you take the good with the bad and keep pushing through.

I really hope that this helps some of you that have the same worries on your mind that I once had.

Nathan x

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by Nathan Wheeler

Nathan Wheeler

About the author

Hello - I'm Nathan Wheeler! I'm a YouTuber and I've had an ileostomy since 2007 when I was just 17, so I have a pretty good idea about how to deal with the struggles of a stoma! I want to share my experiences with you and bring a light-hearted approach to all the questions that no one wants to ask! You can follow me an Instagram and YouTube.

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