Adjusting to life with any form of long term health condition or disability can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Every day we learn to overcome barriers and obstacles which allow us to maintain a sense of ‘normality’ in our lives, so to help other ‘ostomates’ (with a colostomy or ileostomy), here we share 10 of our own ‘ostomy life hacks’:
#1 Knock back the water
Life with less bowel, means life with less fluid absorption – so the only way to stop yourself from passing out and hitting the deck, is to knock back the fluids! The recommended daily intake of water for a person with all of their bowel is 2 litres per day, so you need to be downing anywhere between 3 and 4 litres as an ‘ostomate’ just to stay on top of your game.
#2.........but don’t be a pee pee pants!
The only problem with downing litres and litres of water everyday – you will need to pee……A LOT! To ensure you don’t spend your whole day in the toilet, make sure eat regularly. The food in your stomach will help to soak up some of that fluid, a bit like a sponge, meaning that less of it will make it to your bladder and you won’t be running for the toilet every 10 minutes.
#3 No need for gaffer tape
Having problems with your baseplate lifting around the edges? There is no need to take a trip down to your local DIY store for some gaffer tape because most of the pharmaceutical companies that make bags also make special adhesive tape to help keep your bag in place. Just ask your stoma nurse or medical supply company for more details. Sadly, however, they don’t come in cool colours like gaffer tape does!
#4 Forgot the water? Reach for the Coke and crisps
If you have forgotten about hack number 1 already and are starting to feel a little bit wobbly on your feet, have a headache or stomach cramps, it probably means you are getting dehydrated. Dehydration can kick in fast and you will soon find yourself passing out! But don’t panic, just reach for the full fat coke and a packet of ready salted crisps. The salts, sugars and fluid will soon start to perk you back up – but don’t stop there. You need to keep replacing those lost fluids, so follow it up with a few chasers of your finest tap water!
#5 ‘Sugar Free’ is your enemy
In fact, most sugar replacements (such as Xylitol) can be the arch nemesis of any ostomate, because they can produce laxative effects, causing you to have a ‘full flush out’. Some people would pay to have a good clear out, but it’s not overly convenient if you don’t go to the toilet in the conventional way. Just take our word for it……its best to avoid ‘sugar free’.
#6 Chips to the rescue!
……but if you can’t resist the urge to guzzle down a handful of your favourite sugar free sweets, causing you to experience the inconvenience of an ‘upset’ stomach, you need to start gobbling up some foods that will ‘bulk up’ your output. Some people swear by foods such as bananas or marshmallows…but for us its chips (what an excuse to get down to the chippy!).
#7 Use your own throne
Disabled toilets aren’t just for people with mobility issues, as more and more frequently they are being re-named as ‘accessible’ toilets to reflect the fact that they are there for people with a whole range of accessibility needs. This includes people with ostomies or inflammatory bowel disease. You may get a few disapproving glances from ignorant people who think that disability = wheelchair – but hey, you’re more informed than they are! You have no reason to be ashamed. So, buy yourself a Radar key to give you access to all ‘accessible’ public toilets, because you never know when you might need your own throne.
(Probably more aptly named as ‘samples’)
If you are not getting on with your current medical products (bags, sprays, tapes etc) then have a look at some of the main pharmaceutical suppliers or speak to your stoma nurse, as most companies will be happy to send you ‘freebie’ (sample) products to try out so that you can find the best fit for you. Go on….it’s free!
#9 The last resort emergency kit
All prepared Ostomates know that they must not leave the house without taking an ‘emergency spares kit’ with them – just in case of leaks and blow outs. But, what happens if during that mad rush to get out of the house when the kids are taking each other on in a champion of champions grudge match, the baby is plunging its head into the dog’s bowl (just for fun) and the dog decides to run off with your shoes - you forget to grab your emergency spares kit?
Well don’t stress (any more than you already are!) because you can put together your own ‘last resort emergency kit’ until you can get back to a place of safety. Simply nip into a chemist or your nearest Supermarket and grab some nappy bags and some surgical tape. If the unthinkable happens, just craft yourself a temporary bag using the nappy bags and tape. You won’t be able to wrestle an alligator with it on, but it should hold out until you get home!
Or you could always invest in one of our emergency blow kits:
#10 Get some armour!
And we don’t mean the chainmail variety – although we are sure dressing up like Sir Lancelot would be awesome! Having a stoma does make you a little vulnerable to the risk of injury and hernias, but it’s not a risk you have to live with. Get yourself an Ostomy Armor – the ultimate in protection for your stoma. Not only does the Ostomy Armor look cool, it also feels great too. Designed with your comfort in mind, you won’t find any other product available to you that keeps you safe, comfortable and confident all at the same time!
Check out the full Ostomy Armour product range at: www.ostomyarmour.co.uk