Work Life And A Stoma

Aleesha And Work Colleague

Adjusting to life after ileostomy surgery and living with a stoma bag can be quite difficult and daunting. I know I had moments where I felt scared. I wasn’t sure if I was able to lead a normal life again with a stoma, such as going to university and working.

I have now had my ileostomy bag for five years and there’s NOTHING it has stopped me from doing and achieving.

In actual fact my ileostomy bag has only improved my quality of life, and has enabled me to accomplish so many things I wasn’t able to do with inflammatory bowel disease. Since having my ileostomy bag I have graduated from university with a BA (Hons) Social Care and Health Studies degree, and I currently work in the NHS.

I want to share some tips and advice with fellow ostomates that have helped me adjust to the working life post operation;

  • I always make sure I put a new ileostomy bag on in the morning before work ensuring it’s stuck to my skin properly and sealed well.
  • On the days where my skin’s a bit sore around my stoma, I use extra adhesive tape to secure the bag to prevent any leaks at work.
  • Before closing the drain of my bag I always use scented drops. This disguises the smell and makes me feel less paranoid about the smell when emptying my bag at work.
  • I suffer from chronic fatigue, so before work I ensure I take all my vitamins to maintain my energy levels throughout the day.
  • I have an emergency kit that I always carry in my handbag and car. This consists of spare ileostomy bags, dry/wet wipes, and disposable bags. This is just incase I have a leak and need to change my bag at work.
  • Knowing where all the toilets are located at work is a must. My workplace has stickers on disabled toilet doors stating that they are ‘stoma friendly’.
  • Eating little and often throughout the day is important – I know how busy and stressful work can get at times, but making sure you do this keeps your stoma happy.
  • Stay hydrated! Those with an ileostomy can become dehydrated quickly. 
  • Eating my dinner early the night before work sometimes prevents me from getting up as frequently throughout the night.
  • Making your manager aware of your condition is useful - mine has been very understanding when needed.
  • My colleagues know about my condition and are extremely supportive and caring. Only share your condition with your colleagues if you are comfortable enough to do so. Thank you to my colleague Angela for helping me take the pictures for this blog and for your overall support!
  • Ensure you are doing the shift patterns and hours that agree with you.
  • Finally, try to raise as much awareness as you can within your workplace because remember, not every disability is visible!

Did you enjoy this blog? Read other articles from our bloggers about returning to work with a stoma:

by Aleesha Verma

Aleesha Verma

About the author

My name's Aleesha Verma - also known as the Gutless Warrior! I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease at the age of 18 and now have a permanent ileostomy bag - not a Prada bag, unfortunately. You can also follow me @gutlesswarrior on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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