Building Your Ostomy Support Team

After ostomy surgery, you may feel stressed and vulnerable. It’s important to involve the people close to you so they can be part of your emotional support team.

Building Your Ostomy Support Team

Get help building your ostomy support team.

Stoma surgery is a major procedure and is only done in cases of serious or life-threatening illness, or following a serious injury. Your closest family members and friends are aware of what you’ve been going through, and that’s where you should first look to build your support team.

Get them involved

It’s important to discuss a few things with the people closest to you, particularly those who live in your household:

  • How difficult your transition may be, that you might feel frustrated sometimes, and that your recovery will take time – patience is required from everyone
  • Your goals and determination not to let a stoma limit you – let them know what you are aiming for and how they can help
  • The extra time you need to change your pouch in the bathroom, especially at first, as well as any extra space that may be needed

In addition, a partner or family member should know how to change your pouch in an emergency. Start by showing them how it’s done with a demonstration. Make sure to cover the important details. Go over changing skin barriers and preparing your new pouching system before removing your used pouch. Also, they should know mornings are the best time to change a pouch, before you eat or drink.

Enlist emotional support

Everybody reacts differently after ostomy surgery. Some people express their feelings by talking with friends, family or those who have had similar experiences. Others find reading and learning about their situation works best for them.

Strong and intense emotions should not be kept to yourself. Open up and discuss them with people who care about you. This may help you work through your feelings. And, it will help your loved ones feel closer to you and be a part of your journey.

Attending a local ostomy support group meeting can be incredibly helpful. The emotional support you receive from people who have shared similar challenges and experiences can be invaluable to you during this difficult time.

If you are not making progress and feel like your emotions are affecting your quality of life, talk with your healthcare team or an ostomy support group. Your stoma care nurse should be able to offer guidance too.