Any major surgery is bound to take a toll on both your physical and mental health and an ostomy surgery is no different. Though the first few weeks after an operation may be trying, keeping the long-term goal in mind of bettering your health and alleviating pain and other bothersome symptoms can help you get through the healing process. In order to fully recover after surgery and arrive at the point where you start noticing and feeling its benefits, you’ll need a little time, patience, and some well-thought-out effort. So, what can you do after surgery to work toward optimal health?
Keep Tabs on Your Mental Health
As trite as it may sound, adopting a positive attitude can do wonders when trying to get back into the groove of everyday life. Accepting the fact that tending to your stoma is now part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth and taking a shower, will make it seem like less of a burden.
Picking up a new hobby or getting back into an old one can also keep your mind from honing in on any negative feelings you may have regarding your stoma. Learning something unfamiliar or returning to an activity you’ve enjoyed in the past stimulates your brain and gives it something to focus on other than those potential nasty, albeit natural, blues. Of course, talk to your doctor beforehand to make sure any activities you’re doing won’t interfere with the healing process.
If you’re feeling extremely down in the dumps for an extended period of time after your surgery, talk to your doctor as soon as possible and seek out support groups in your area. Knowing you’re not alone and talking through your experience with fellow ostomates will more often than not provide some relief.
Get Proper Nutrition and Exercise
Getting adequate nutrition following your surgery can be tough at first. You will most likely have to adapt your diet in some way to accommodate your new digestive system. Your doctor will provide a list of foods to avoid while you’re still healing, so make sure to follow it to a T. Once you’re able to start reintroducing foods into your diet, you may find that some of your previous staples no longer sit well with you. If you often feel uncomfortable after eating, start a journal to record the contents of each meal in detail as well as any physical symptoms you experience within the ensuing hours. It is also helpful to keep an eye on the contents of your bag and note anything out of the ordinary. This will help you pinpoint what is causing discomfort. Eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly may also provide some relief. And don’t forget to hydrate regularly throughout the day!
With your doctor’s approval, start exercising lightly as soon as possible — and we stress lightly. Your body has gone through a major change, so don’t expect to go out and run a marathon or climb a mountain right away. Ease your body back into things by picking a low impact activity such as light walking or swimming or even a gentle stretching routine. Give your body time to adapt by increasing intensity little by little.
Find What Works For You
Finding the right pouching system is one of the most important pieces of working toward optimal health. Immediately following your surgery, your health professionals will determine which system works best for you. However, within the first few weeks of being on the mend, your body will show some changes as it starts to adapt to your stoma. You may lose or gain weight and your stoma may shrink in size. Be sure to measure it every few days and note any changes.
No matter which pouching system you use, keeping the skin surrounding your stoma healthy is crucial. Make sure to follow the directions for your system carefully and check it regularly for leaks as moisture can cause irritation. If you are having leakage problems with your initial pouching system, now is a good time to look at other options. Coloplast’s BodyCheck is a great tool to help you find a system adapted to your current situation, and if you order your supplies from Comfort Medical, we’d be happy to send you some samples to test!
A New Healthy You is Just Around the Corner!
After any major surgery, the road to recovery is bound to be long, winding, and bumpy, but don’t be discouraged! With a positive outlook, healthy habits, and a little trial and error, you’ll make your way back to optimal health in no time — and you’ll likely feel even better than before your ostomy!