Having a colostomy is indeed a bold decision, is not just special because it is major surgery, but it is a step to bring changes to your life, which include having a stoma bag cover after the surgery.
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I know this is hard for many people, for some people, having a bag or pouch attached to them is quite uncomfortable and also a huge emotional adjustment. Trust me, you might feel uncomfortable and scared at first because those are simply normal feelings, says one of the colorectal surgeons, Amh Lightner, MD.
But this doesn’t stop you from being active like before, you can still wear fashionable clothes and shoes, and live a happy life like before with a stoma bag.
An awkward subject, but it’s no joke.
However, in the case of some people, stoma ( ileostomy or colostomy) bags may be needed temporarily for some times – usually within a duration of three to nine months to enhance quick recovery from intestinal surgery.
But, if you have a situation like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, or something like imperfect surgical aftermath of colorectal cancer, this may lead to using a stoma bag becoming part of your life permanently.
You might feel reluctant to discuss it or talk with your family about your bag, but trust me you are not alone.
Because “this particular topic doesn’t get a lot of attention because it’s very private, and many people think it is disgusting to be talking about poop, stool and hand,” Dr Lightner says. When people do talk about such subjects, it’s often in a joking or mocking fashion. But there’s no reason to feel ashamed.
“Having a stoma bag is a life-changing event, and no one who requires one should be valued less than anyone else,” Dr Lightner says. “You need and deserve to enjoy your life.”
Long-term conditions can be especially tough for young patients. While the impact is tough on anyone, the need for a stoma bag can be much more psychologically tough for younger people, given the number of years they still have ahead of them and the greater likelihood that they’ll participate in activities that could make the bag visible.
“There is a different reality for somebody who’s going to living with a bag for three or five years, vs. 60 or 80 years. This brings a significant impact, in my opinion, to the pediatric populace. Suddenly playing sports or going to the beach can be difficult to grip. People first see an appliance and not a person.”
Bags offer much more individual freedom
Anyone considering a colostomy should see an experienced, board-certified colorectal physician to have the surgery you need and be fitted for a bag.
You need the appropriate care from a specialist to do the surgery the right way so they can get a better quality of life. You must be in the right hands. Most people become devastated if things are not done right, and it’s very draining to require additional procedures.