Don’t put Limitations on yourself, just because you have a stoma. Enjoy Yourself!
Going Out & Doing It!
Most people who have a stoma can return to their normal daily activities, once they have recovered from the effects of the surgery.
Many ostomates return to work, continue with their sports, go out with friends, entertain and travel within Australia and abroad. Having a stoma should not limit you, and you should take up the challenge and do all of these things and more, if your health allows it.
If you have any concerns talk to your STN.
Preparation is one of the keys to achieving the lifestyle that you want and forward thinking is definitely something that ostomates need to do.
It is essential that you are prepared when you do leave the house whether for work or leisure, by having an “emergency kit” to take with you. This kit should contain 2 spare appliances, spare clip (if appropriate), two (2) disposable bags (for the used appliances), six (6) disposable washcloths, air freshener and any other items you need to change your appliance. A toiletry bag or makeup bag makes a good holder for all your needs. This kit will not be used every time you go out, it is essential that you replace the appliances in your kit regularly to ensure that they are “fresh” .
The disabled toilets are the better toilets to use when out, as they are larger and give you more room to change your appliance if you need to do so. Just because you are not in a wheelchair does not mean you can not use these toilets.
Going Back to Work
Deciding when to go back to work is a decision that you, your Stomal Therapy Nurse and your Doctor should decide together.
Ask your Stomal Therapy Nurse about any suggestions that they may have for your returning to work.
It might be appropriate to carry a spare set of clothing in your work bag/car, especially if you do physical work that could cause a problem, (just in case). It never hurts to be prepared!
An essential part of your work day practise is to ensure that you have a fresh “emergency kit” handy, whether in your car, locker or somewhere secure and easily accessed.
Going to Hospital
It is advisable to take sufficient appliances with you if you are admitted to hospital, as the hospital probably will not stock your brand and size. With over 2,000 different appliances on the Stoma Appliance Scheme list, it is impossible for a hospital to stock everything.
It is very important if you are only going in for a day procedure to take a “emergency Kit” with you.
It is highly recommended that you ask to see the hospital’s Stomal Therapy Nurse when you are admitted, as not all nurses are familiar with stoma care.
If you have been admitted for something completely unrelated to your stoma, it is still important to talk to the STN, as medications and treatments can cause other issues.
It is always a good idea to tell someone else where your supplies are kept at home, so that in the case of an emergency admittance, or if your stay in hospital is longer than expected, they will be able to collect some appliances etc, for you.
If you have serious medical problems that could mean a hurried admission to hospital a good tip would be to have an “Emergency Bag” to be collected at the last minute. This “Emergency Bag” would need to contain a few days appliances.
Don’t forget to renew your appliances periodically in the “Emergency Bag”
It is also advisable to have a Hospital bag, for that emergency. In it you can have an emergency stoma Kit, a pair of pyjamas, underwear, toiletries, tissues, a list of medications, a list of addresses and phone numbers of family members, your GP’s name and phone number and some spare change.
Having a stoma is no reason for not travelling. Many ostomates travel around Australia and the world by car, bus, train and planes and do so with little fuss and a bit of preparation.
If travelling in Australia a good tip would be to take a copy of Ostomy Australia with you, as it has a directory of all the associations in Australia ,that you can get supplies from if you need some in emergency. Having a copy of your entitlement Number is also important (If you don’t know this number, contact the Ostomy rooms).
The Government allows you to have one months issue, in advance, to cover for holidays so it is important that you plan ahead and work out what you will need.
Storage of appliances when travelling is important, as you need to keep them out of damp spots, out of direct light and not allow them to sweat as they will loose their adhesion to some degree.
Before travelling abroad you should obtain from the Ostomy rooms an International Travel Certificate, that explains in different languages, that the appliances you are travelling with are for medical purposes.
When travelling, it is a good idea to have a list of your appliances code numbers and manufacturers name just in case of an emergency.
When travelling, it is important that you take sufficient supplies for what you need, and then a bit more, especially if you are not close to another association (in Australia).
When travelling overseas, talk to your Stomal Therapy Nurse and they will be able to direct you where to go, if you need extra supplies etc. But be aware that other countries do not have the same scheme in place as Australia, and you may have to buy your appliances.
Always be prepared that you might have a reaction to food or water, especially if travelling overseas. Talk to your Stomal Therapy Nurse and they can help you with suggestions as to what to do if this occurs.
Travelling by Plane
When travelling by plane it is essential that you do not pack all your appliances in one bag and that you also carry a few in your hand luggage. Airlines are known to lose luggage and in this way you will not lose all of your appliances.
Be aware that scissors are not allowed on the plane so if you have to cut out your supplies, pre-cut as many as you need to cover you until you can purchase a pair of scissors at your destination.
Plane toilets are known to be a small flush, so paper in the bowl first helps to flush away your pouch contents easier.
Ask for an aisle seat when boarding, as it helps you get to the toilet easier without having to climb over other travellers.
In the plane, you can dispose of your used appliances by wrapping it first and then placing it in the container for sanitary towels.
When flying don’t wait until the last moment to use the toilet as there is always a long queue.