If anyone walked a mile in the shoes of an ostomate, how would they feel? What does having an ostomy mean to you? Survey says: good health, no pain, belonging to a group of strong, caring and compassionate people - ostomates, savvy individuals who've learned how and where to get and share knowledge, help, humor and hope. Okay, there hasn’t yet been a comprehensive survey.

Are you living as actively as you’d like to? If not, why? An ostomy is merely tissue that’s been surgically, relocated and designed to function smoothly. If even a temporary ostomy doesn’t work correctly and trouble-free, it may only need a little extra attention and care. You and your ostomy deserve the time necessary to be taken care of really well. After that, let your heart and brain take charge.

Living through health problems that led to ostomy surgery, you no doubt gained strength and fortitude. Your ostomy won’t break and neither will you. You might develop feistiness and greater determination. You may also discover bad hair days are more likely than bad ostomy days especially in a tropical, humid climate, during blistery winters, or in the windiest rainstorms.

If you’re not sure whether an activity is medically or physically all right for you to do, before you stop yourself from trying, ask your physician and ET (enterostomal therapist) if actual medical or physical restrictions prevent you from participating in or learning a new activity. Ostomies don’t prevent work, traveling, living anywhere, swimming, scuba diving, hiking, or water skiing.

Don’t allow inaccurate information or a negative attitude from preventing you from doing what you want. Adjust your attitude with realistic information. Just as you adapted to the ways your body changed as you were growing up, as an adult, you can adapt again and resume living as millions of other ostomates have done. Learning how to take care of an ostomy is not as difficult as originally learned...earlier than you may remember...to walk, or later perhaps learning to drive a car, to wear contact lenses or bifocals.

Ask questions. Terrific at sharing information, ostomates are resilient inventive, practical, and creative. At ostomy association meetings, notice how well people look. That’s due to deliberate effort and an optimistic attitude. Give yourself the same quality of care you expect from your doctors. Don’t ask less of yourself.

Having an ostomy might mean better health now, and living longer. Decide each day what you’d like to do. Socialize with other people, or spend time alone. Count on the people most important to you to remain loving and supportive. Call people you’d like to see. Let your family and others know when you want them to join you in various activities. Don’t think or expect the worst from anyone, including yourself. An ostomy gives you health and options. Consider the Spanish Proverb: Living Well is the Best Revenge. Live well!

By: Lynne Rich, PhD. Broward Ostomy Association, Via: HemetSan Jacinto, CA
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