It is time for Back to School and that means no more late summer nights making s’mores or playing flashlight tag. It is back to homework and early bedtimes. Lunch boxes and school supplies will need to be purchased but if you are the parent of a child with an ostomy there are some extra items you will need to add to your list. Ostomy supplies will need to be organized and you will have to work to make sure your child's school is ready to be a part of your ostomy team! Communication is of the utmost importance. You will want to talk to the school nurse as well as classroom teachers to let them know how they can help your child manage and control their ostomy. An ostomy is no reason to miss out on all the fun filled learning that is waiting for your child. Being proactive and communicating with your child's school will make a HUGE difference!
What Ostomy Supplies Do I Send Each Day?
I think two full changes is a great place to start. If you are using a two piece pediatric ostomy system, that means you should include two wafers/flanges and two ileostomy/colostomy pouches. If your child needs to use ostomy strip paste or ostomy powder, you will want to include those accessories in their daily carry bag as well. Make sure your child either knows how to change their ostomy pouch by themselves or knows to ask for help when they need it. If your child can't change the pouch alone yet, then a more thorough talk will be needed with the school staff. Not everyone is familiar with ostomy and they might need more instruction than you think. Calling ahead and making an appointment with your child's teacher and school nurse can help make sure they are prepared to help your child fully enjoy and be safe throughout the school day. Try to have all pouches ready to go, that means making sure they are cut to size before they are sent to school. Ask if your child can leave ostomy supplies with the nurse or if they need to travel home each day. Having an extra change of clothes "just in case" can also help speed up accident recovery. Don't forget, most children's bathrooms have a toilet area that is separate from the sinks, ask if your child can use the staff restrooms where they have easy access to the sink. Contact a local or online medical supply company to make sure you have the supplies your child is familiar with, sending the same products each day will help make your child more comfortable. If you need to test new supplies out, try to do it when there is a school break or a weekend.
How Will My Child's Ostomy Affect Gym Class?
It is important that your child get as much healthy activity as possible. No one wants to see a child not be able to play, run, and have as much fun as possible. However, having an ostomy means taking care of your stoma and keeping it safe. Full contact sports might not be the best choice right after surgery. You will want to have a discussion with your child's doctor and determine what the best plan is for your child in regards to gym and playground activity. The next step after talking to your doctor, is to talk to your child's gym teacher. They will need to know how to handle it if your child's ostomy pouch is knocked loose or if they are hit near or on their stoma with a ball. Keeping an open dialog will make sure that your child misses as little of gym class as possible. Little things like, making sure your child's teachers know they need to change or empty their pouch before physical activity can help the day go smoothly.