Living with an Ostomy: Debunking Five Common Myths

People have many misconceptions about what life is truly like after undergoing ostomy surgery. Living with a stoma is much easier than you would think, it only takes a bit of patience for your body to adapt. A colostomy bag should never inhibit you from living your life to the fullest, so let's go ahead and debunk the most common myths about life after an ostomy.

Myth #1: You Can't Dress Normally with an Ostomy
If you have an ostomy bag, you won't be forced to buy a whole new wardrobe. These contraptions are increasingly lightweight and discreet, so people won't even notice that you have one. Try to avoid wearing clothing with very tight waistbands and size up in the pants department to avoid feeling uncomfortable. You can also wear some high-waisted underwear or a belly band to provide extra protection.

Myth #2: You Can't Be Physically Active with an Ostomy
You may not be able to do any physical activity right after surgery, however, once your doctor gives you the ‘all clear', you can start getting back into your routine. Start slowly, by going out for short walks, and start increasing the difficulty week by week. If you need some extra support, get some ostomy tape to keep the pouch in place.

Myth #3: You Can't Be Intimate with an Ostomy
With trust and communication, intimacy with an ostomy should never be an issue. As the stoma doesn't have nerve endings, you won't feel any pain if the area is irritated or rubbed. To avoid any accidents, make sure to empty your pouch before engaging in intimate relations.

Myth #4: You Can't Eat Anything Nice with an Ostomy
During the initial stages, you will definitely have to adapt to eating with an ostomy bag. However, once you know how your body reacts to different ingredients, you can slowly add your favorite foods back into your diet. Always remember to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly. You should also drink plenty of water and stay on a regular eating schedule.

Myth #5: Only People with Cancer Have Ostomies
One of the greatest myths about this procedure is that only people who suffer from cancer have ostomies. However, many common diseases may require ostomy surgery, including neurogenic bladder disease, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, and familial polyposis. Whilst for some patients, an ostomy is permanent, for others an ostomy is only a temporary solution.

You may find some days to be harder than others, especially during the initial stages. However, the idea that your life must completely change just because you now have an ostomy is completely ridiculous. You can still enjoy the foods you love, wear your favorite outfits, be intimate with your partner, and cross off any crazy activities from your bucket list. You won't be full of energy right after your surgery, but give yourself time and trust in the process, you'll be back on your feet sooner than you know.

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