A person opens a door and steps out from darkness into a bright landscape.

Regaining Confidence in My Stoma: A Post-Pandemic World

The pandemic, without a doubt, has affected almost all of us in some way or another. For me, as someone who was deemed "clinically, extremely vulnerable" at the start of the pandemic, it has had an enormous impact. And I am just starting to come to terms with that impact now.

I was going out either alone or meeting with friends, overnight stays, and traveling by air constantly. I had done all of these things many times before, but now they were forbidden and terrified me.

For over 18 months, I had received a barrage of letters, texts, e-mails, and even odd phone calls from the British Government and the Department for Health. Continually advising me not to go out unless it was absolutely necessary and to mix with no one outside of my household.

Losing confidence in my stoma

As the population became vaccinated and the death rates from Covid started to decline, now was the time to start going out again and living.

I must admit I had put off going out as I realized I had lost all confidence in my stoma and was scared that I may have a leak or not be able to find a loo. Many public lavatories here in England have never re-opened after the pandemic, so the lack of toilet facilities put the fear of god in me.

You see, right after my stoma surgery, I was ready to do everything my illness had stopped me from doing. So I jumped into going out with friends and overnight stays straight away.

Now I had, had two years pretty much confined to my home and never having the concern of finding a public toilet, never having to worry about leaks as I was able to keep a very close eye on my stoma bag.

Learning to trust my stoma again

Here is where I had to pull on all my resources. The hints and tips that I had personally given to others over the years I was now telling myself:

  • Change the stoma bag before going out, so it's nice, fresh, and well adhered to.
  • Ensure you have an emergency stoma kit with you containing adhesive remover, stoma bag, dry wipes, fresh underwear, and disposal bag as a  minimum.
  • Wear heavily patterned clothing. If you to do leak, the wetness would be much less evident on dark and heavily patterned clothing.
  • Make short trips first, gradually increasing the length of time you are away from home.
  • Overnight stays- I take a large, square plastic-backed medical sheet to put under where I sleep. Then, if the unfortunate were to happen, I wouldn't wet the bed.
  • I also use the same sheet when changing my stoma. Again it gives me peace of mind should my darling little stoma decide to play "hose pipe."

Be patient with yourself

I don't know about you. But I have certainly never lived through a pandemic before, so who is to say what the right or wrong way to behave or react is?

By gradually easing myself back into social situations, I have finally regained my confidence. I am not going to lie - it took a little time and perseverance (and tears).

So, as the saying goes, "slowly does it," and you will regain your confidence. Thankfully, I did!

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