A woman with two ostomy bags smiles as the sun rises behind her.

Processing “The New Norm” after Ostomy Surgery

I have a love-hate relationship with the phrase "the new norm". It's a bit like marmite, many either love it or hate it. Only it's a little different. You can love it one day and hate it the next.

I 100 percent know, accept, and acknowledge that my two ostomies saved my life, and for the most part that is all I need to live with them as a permanent part of my body and part of my life from here on in.

There are of course advantages to having a stoma.

Years of UTIs

Prior to my bladder cancer diagnosis and my ostomy surgery as a result of this, I suffered years of UTIs, disturbed sleep, and always looking for where the next restroom was due to the sudden urge to empty my bladder.

I know now that in my case, these repeated infections all lead to bladder cancer.

Now, a sense of contentment

Now I never have that urgency and overall, I now sleep really well. I hook up to a night bag at bedtime which saves me from getting up during the night.

I can now go on weekends away with my husband and not have to stop at every service stop to go to the restroom during the automobile journey.

For the days when things are going well in general with no work or family stresses and no stoma leaks, I am content. There are positives and the fact they were life-saving shines bright in my head like a star in the sky on a clear evening.

I feel a sense of contentment. A sense of peace. Overall grateful that the medical advances we are fortunate to have today along with the skills of an amazing medical team, allowed me to still be here.

Processing after ostomy surgery

Then there are the other days. The days when I don't want my "new norm". I am now 4 years into my life with two ostomies but in many ways, it is still feeling early in my overall journey.

A relatively new ostomate recently asked me if I found other health issues, even a simple cold, was harder to deal with since my ostomy creation. The answer is a resounding, YES!

In the initial months, post-ostomy surgery, your body is still healing inside. They say it is at least a year, others say a month for every hour you were on the operating table for your body to recover.

It gets easier over time for sure but to this day, I still feel other medical issues, even those relatively small, are harder to deal with. As well as the physical recovery, there is the emotional recovery. For me, the emotional recovery took the longest.

Bad days are different now

On the days when my ostomy leaks or I have a bad day at work, it is harder than a bad day was before my surgery.

It brings it all back home. I feel very much "why me?" For a moment, I resent people who live a life without an ostomy. Those people for who something as normal as going to the bathroom is not given a second thought.

I want to shout out and tell people who are complaining about small and insignificant things, "Let me tell you what I have to deal with daily!"

Over time I have identified that while anyone having gone through a cancer journey has flashbacks and reminders of diagnosis, treatment, and all they went through.

I see my ostomy bags several times a day, it is often hard to try and put all I went through and the reason why to the back of my mind.

Finding equilibrium, the emotional recovery

Of course, these moments and days pass. I once again find an equilibrium. I once again remember the positives. I remember that yes, I went through a very traumatic time physically and emotionally, but I have so much to be grateful for.

I am once again the boss, and the ostomies must fit in with my life and not the other way around. Once again, I rock my two stomas!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The BladderCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.