Having a stoma, temporarily or permanently, is a big change in a person’s life. For some people, it might take a lot of time and adjustment to accept life with a stoma. Others, however, adjust more quickly. How you deal with it depends on you and your situation — there is no right way or wrong way to living life with a stoma. We have gathered the stories of other people living with a stoma who share their experiences.
I have always lived a very active life with lots of physical activities, and I have always been healthy.
In August 2006, I got stomach pain and diarrhoea, and I felt very weak. My doctor treated me for a bowel infection. The week after, it got worse, and I had periods with pain where I laid crouching on the toilet floor. When I was admitted to hospital some weeks later, I had lost a lot of weight — gone from 80 kg to 55 kg. I was so weak that I could not do anything. The stoma care nurse came several times to talk to me and site the stoma, but every time, I sent her away — I was not going to have a stoma! I had been searching on the Internet, and what I saw and read about stomas gave me an impression of a life to which I could not adopt a positive attitude.
After a couple of days, the doctor came and said that it was a matter of life or death if I didn’t get an operation. Together with the stomal therapy nurse, we found the right place for my stoma; it was important to me that I still could wear my uniform as a policeman. When I woke up, I was feeling so bad. I was still in bed thinking: 'I am dying now', but the surgeon came and told me the operation had been successful.
My wife, with whom I have been together for 5 years, was at hospital every day, and she has been a fantastic support. Initially I did not want to look at the stoma, but one day she insisted on being by my side when my stoma pouch was changed. I looked at her, and she did not show any kind of discomfort and that helped me so much.
After discharging from hospital, I was so weak and needed help even to take a shower. I was very determined in my rehabilitation and had set a goal for every week. The first week I started my training by walking one block, and the week after, it was two blocks and so on. I must admit that there were days when I could not pull myself together, but my wife was there, and she made sure that I got out of the house.
I have always been dedicated to sports, and I wanted to get back in shape. When I was in hospital I read about a fireman who had a stoma, and it did not have any effect on either his private life or his working life. I compared myself with him because I have a physically hard job as well, working as a policeman on a SWAT team, and I did not want to change anything about that. I enjoy my job and have been working like this for 6 years. It is a physically demanding job, and I needed to get back to my old shape.
I returned to work after 3 months, and a year after surgery, I participated in a competition between the SWAT team and the parachute troops. We had to run 10 miles with full equipment (15 kg), and I came in before five of my colleagues and was very satisfied with my performance. I made a mistake by not calculating that without the large bowel, I needed more fluid and salt, so when I reached the finish line I had cramps in my legs.
I got a long list of different foods I should be aware of from the hospital. There were so many limitations, I had a difficult time finding what to eat — much of the food on the list was what I normally ate. On a journey to Turkey 2 months after surgery, I had to eat a lot of the food that was on the list — vegetables and fruits — simply because the food at the holiday resort was uneatable. That changed everything, because I found out that I could eat it without any problems, and now I do not put any limitations on what I eat.
I do my exercises every day in a park nearby, together with our big dog. I run and do 10 press-ups at each bench on the route. One day a woman stood staring at me, and I asked her if she needed any help, but she just wanted to know how I could manage the way I was training. I told her that she could do the same, but no — she had a stoma. 'So do I', I said, and I had to show her — otherwise she would not believe me. We had a nice talk and I still meet her. Now she is doing power walking.
As I said before, it helped me a lot to read about the fireman who could easily manage his job after getting a stoma. I would have liked to talk to a person like that when I was at hospital, so now I frequently visit patients and talk with them about living life with a stoma.
Like the limitations I got on food, I was also told that I could not do my fitness like before, because heavy weights would not go well with my stoma. I have nicely and quietly increased the intensity of my training, and now I do my training just like before my operation.
I think it is very important that you do not give yourself limitations, but set goals and reach them without pushing yourself too hard. In November 2008, I got married to Sadie, and we now have a very healthy baby boy called Harley who was born in August 2009.
I have been offered to get my stoma reversed, but I have a very good life, and the stoma is no hindrance to my life and to our lifestyle. I know what I have now, and I have no problems whatsoever, so I do not think I will have the reverse operation.
You are now leaving the Dansac website and are going to a website that is not operated by us. Dansac is not responsible for the content on or availability of linked sites. Please be aware that linked sites may have different security or privacy policies.