Having a robust support system can make all the difference to your recovery time following ostomy surgery. Having a dedicated caregiver, whether it’s a wound and ostomy care nurse (WOCN) or a family member will not only help you adjust to your ostomy but will make adapting to your new lifestyle quicker and easier.
Watch this video to learn more about how an ostomy caregiver can help.
Hi, my name is Siobhan and I lead ostomy education here at Better Health. I have an ostomy and myself that I’ve had for six years. So I’m well acquainted with all the ins and outs and ups and downs of life with an ostomy. One of the things that I do here at Better Health is coach other people who are having ostomy surgery soon, or who’ve had ostomies recently, and I want to help them thrive with their ostomy.
So Sherry you’re having an ostomy surgery soon. Tell me more. I am, and I’m lucky I think to have a support network who sort of rallying around friends and relative. But I’m not really clear on what they can do to help. There are some really great ways that they can help you. So one of the ways that your support network can help is just by pitching in with some things like food bringing you dishes that are easy to hear.
They can pitch in by maybe accomplishing some small household tasks, like going to the grocery store or, you know, throwing a load of laundry in and moving it to the sheet moving it from the washer to the dryer. And then, you know, if, if you’re feeling up for it, it’s always great to be able to share your experiences with people that depends on your level of comfort.
But I think that it’s really positive when people who have had ostomy surgery are able to share their experiences because we all know somebody who’s sisters, brothers, cousin had asked me to surgery and the more we normalize it, the more comfortable we’ll feel in our own skin. That makes sense. My sister is actually going to come and stay at my place right after the surgery for a while.
But what should I tell her to expect right now? I don’t have information about her role. And so her anxiety is almost higher than mine. I’m so glad you have a caregiver coming to help you out that will make your life so much easier.
Around well, there’s going to be a stoma. There’s going to be these products that I need to use when I get home from the hospital. I’ll have a home health care nurse come in and and take a look at my stoma and my incisions every few days for a little bit. And you’ll learn together. Sometimes a caregiver needs a period of adjustment on their own.
They might be a little weirded out by this whole process. That’s normal. Most people I find do a great job of adjusting and just rolling with learning how to manage an Austin meet. Now, some of the specific things that your caregiver can do is to help you manage your meals and meal planning.
You want to eat a specific diet after your ostomy surgery, that is low residue, low fiber, because that diet won’t make your digestive system work too hard while it’s trying to heal. Another thing that your caregivers should expect is that it can take anywhere from four to six weeks to even up to six months for somebody to really recover and get back on their feet.
But again, that can be up to you and her to negotiate on how long she stays to help you. And then finally, and I think this is the most important point with caregivers, let them know to expect some mess. Unfortunately, in the beginning of ostomies right. You’re going to have some problems with leaks.
You’re probably going to be changing your barrier more often, and your stoma is going to be doing a higher amount of output because your body’s adjusting to having an ostomy. So messes happen, you know, be prepared, put on a, put on a pat on the bed to catch that mess. If you have a leak in the middle of the night and just roll with it you know, you can laugh about it later.
It does. It is kind of funny when you have. When you’re constantly cleaning up poop, you know my sister is a cool about messes and things like that. I think she wants to actually help me with the basics, like changing the pouch and so forth now is what she doesn’t know. How is that something we can learn together from the home health aid?
Or is it okay to let her help me with that? Absolutely. You should do what you need. The home health nurse should be able to educate you on your ostomy supplies and make recommendations about what products you need. I recommend that you, to the extent that you can take care of your ostomy because you’re not always going to have somebody there unless you are bedridden or RF or need more intensive care.
But if somebody wants to help, if they want to be involved, I’m all for it. Especially if there’s a situation where you need to go back into the hospital because of a post-surgical complication or, you know, heaven forbid you have more surgery in the future, that person will be there to help you manage your ostomy.
For more information on all things ostomy stay tuned to this video series where we tackle ostomy diet and nutrition, exercise, activities, relationships, and more.