I have not yet had my ostomy a full year, but the anxiety I know all too well. Between all the things that can go wrong (having leaks, stoma making loud public noises, etc.) it can make it very hard to not be anxious about your ostomy when you leave the house.
The best way to alleviate these concerns is to “prepare for the worst and pray for the best” so the saying goes.
If you are worried about leaks, double check your bag before you leave the house. If you wear a one piece, make sure the barrier is sticking nice to your skin. If it’s been a while since your last change and the barrier isn’t as sticky, you might want to change before you leave so you don’t have to worry about it. If you wear a two piece bag, make sure your bag is sealed to the barrier all the way around. My ostomy nurse compared it to tupperware, in the sense that if you put left overs in a tupperware container you would want to make sure the lid is sealed on tight incase anything happens then it won’t spill.
Pack a bag to keep with you or in your car that contains:
- Ostomy Supplies: Adhesive remover wipes, barrier wipes, stoma powder, barrier, seal or paste, bag, scissors, etc.
- Spare clothes
- Baby wipes/wet towelettes
It helps to keep a cell phone on you and have someone around you that can help get your supplies to you. If you have a leak in public and are with someone, ask them to grab your bag out of the car and meet you in the bathroom where you can clean up and change. If you are alone, I would recommend keeping the bag on you so if you have a leak you do not have to run all the way out to your car before going to a bathroom.
If you worry about your stoma making a lot noise, try to eat and drink foods that don’t produce a lot of gas while out and about. If my stoma makes a noise in public and someone gives me a look, I will typically try to be humorous about it and point at my stoma and say, “Bad stoma. Shhhh…” And then once they realize that it’s out of my control, they typically won’t stare.
Sometimes applying light pressure can also lessen the noises. If I’m in class and my stomach is making suspicious noises I will take off my sweater and wrap it around my stomach and then the noise is muffled.
If you are anxious of how certain foods will work with your ostomy, talk to your doctor or nurse or join support groups and ask others. If a food causes you problems, stay away from that food. Some foods won’t affect others the same way it affects you. While one person may be able to eat vegetables with their ostomy, it doesn’t mean it couldn’t still cause a blockage for you. These are learning experiences that just take time.
It can be hard to not get embarrassed or nervous by these things from time to time, but it just takes time and finding out what works best for you. You just gotta keep your chin up, and in time you will adjust. I never thought I would handle a leak well, until a few leaks, and then just yesterday I woke up to a leak, and I didn’t freak out or panic. I just calmly got up and handled it because “shit happens”… literally.
Take care, ostomates!