Things To Consider As An Ostomate Working In Care

Stephie September

Having an ileostomy has certainly given me my life back, but it has also made me very aware of my limitations and how far or not I can push them. This has been prevalent in two areas of my life…

  • Exercise (see my post about running)
  • Work (I am a care/support worker)

I am currently very lucky with work for now, because I am only supporting one person with their day to day life and it doesn’t entail much more physical than changing the bedding (which sucks at the best of times)! However, when I work in the community it is a whole different kettle of fish.

In the community I am often working with someone who is a different height to me which can make a quite a big difference when we have to lift things or people, someone will hurt their back trying to compensate! I also have to move heavy hoists around people’s homes which aren’t always accommodated for - carpets not being fitted correctly as a prime example. This makes me highly aware of pulling, pushing and twisting muscles in and around my abdomen and I really worry about getting a hernia.

I already suffer with a weird cramping inside my stomach when my intestine just randomly decides to kink or twist (it has done this at work and is quite embarrassing) so adding a hernia or prolapse to the mix isn’t something I fancy.

Whilst working in the community I use hernia support wear to give myself a better chance of preventing hernias or a stoma prolapse.

Within home care there are a lot of snap risk assessments that need to be made for yourself and others. I try to do these as quickly as possible as I also need to factor in my stoma in some cases. Certain staff I work with know about my stoma and are happy to move the hoist for instance, and I will accommodate having the bed lower as being 5ft10 I’m often taller than my colleagues.

I might need to have surgery soon and I’m not sure how secure my job would be if and when I needed to take time off.

The thought actually scares me that even though my ileostomy allows me to work again comfortably (no more crawling round my place of work and necking morphine the second my shift finishes), having time off due to ill health or surgery may mean I lose my job. I know I wouldn’t be able to take the three months off I had last time, and would probably go back way sooner than I should, but then again the person I look after is fairly easy and as I work on my own I wouldn’t have someone else rushing me. I went back to work four weeks after my larger bowel was removed and my j-pouch formed so even though it’s stupid it’s not unheard of for me!

by Stephie Simpson

Stephie Simpson

About the author

I’m Stephie - a mum, wife and punk rock ostomate, blessed to be from North Yorkshire. I'll be writing about different campaigns that can help ostomates & general lifestyle posts.

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