You Need To Be Prepared to Care For Mental Health of a Colostomy Patient
I had my colon cancer surgery in December of 2013.
The mental health of a colostomy patient was as far from my thinking as the east is from the west. It just never occurred to me that the mental health of a colostomy patient was that big a deal.
I look back now and it didn’t take but a couple of weeks after I got home, for me to realize fully that there was a whole side to this situation that I wasn’t entirely prepared to handle.
The Two Sides of Mental Health of a Colostomy Patient
Caring for the colostomy patient is largely a mental health issue. Having a stoma can lead to depression as well as all the other second thoughts, and doubts you start having.
Side One: From Thanksgiving 2013 through to my release from the hospital following my surgery which was Monday Afternoon, December 16, That time period was controlled by the doctors and nurses that were involved in preparing me for the surgery.
I simply followed directives and I was places I needed to be when I needed to be there. But then once I got home It was only a little over a week until Christmas.
Side Two: You will find out there are things in your mindset that will take more than a few months to effectively work through. These things are self-doubts and fears about how you are perceived by family, friends, and strangers from now on.
Some of these things I still am working on even after 4 years. Mental health for a colostomy patient is important and needs to be taken seriously.
Now I Was Home, the Changes Started to Work On Me
We were bustling with Christmas activity at home. So while I was recovering from my 6 hour-plus major surgery, I still didn’t have very much time, by myself where I needed to be thinking about nor, was I doing much of anything that was directed as my own choice. The family was doing this, we needed to go here etc. You get the picture.
So I would say that by roughly January 4, 2014, I was fully in the mode of “What to Heck has just happened to me”.
I was now involved in a really different life with changes that were totally brand new to me….. I was struggling with many things by then. I finally figured out that this was going to be a real mindset challenge. Unlike anything, I had thought about previously.
One Month After Surgery-Psychological Impact of Stoma
So next I am having to start preparing for the next steps the doctors had set up, to get me healthy again.
Next up was healing of surgical incisions, my surgery to have a Medi-port placed in my chest, and the chemo treatments were getting planned and set up.
My job was healing and now I was realizing my biggest job was dealing with the following mental side issues. So I am experiencing the psychological impact of having a stoma.
Here is my list as I saw it.
- I needed to find the right set of pouching. The size and style that I was comfortable with.
- I needed to create a travel bag for myself.
- I was working with my wardrobe. What I would wear now, and how I dressed now to be effective(to be able to get to my pouch easily)and also be comfortable wearing the clothes
- I was leery of traveling away from the home. I lacked confidence in my ability to deal with the actions necessary to take care of myself in a foreign setting
- My self-image had taken a whipping. I felt as though everyone noticed my ostomy
- I was really concerned about how my wife would view me now, with the big changes to me physically
These are a few things I was dealing with mentally. Over and over again in my mind. It seemed that everything was full of uncertainty.
I would also like to interject at this time, that the practical side of caring for your ostomy is covered in my blog post titled, “Colostomy Maintenance My First Job‘ which is about my first month, to a month and a half, after I get home from my surgery.
Stoma and Depression-I Felt That I Was Very Alone
I did feel all alone, like I was on an island. I didn’t know another soul who had an ostomy. You think you are a freak. The stoma is new to me so having a stoma and depression made perfect sense to me.
You are so different than most people, but truthfully, they don’t have any clue you are different, and you are thinking that they see you that easily, or thatyou stick out like a sore thumb.
I hope that makes sense to you. Sounds kind of crazy right?I was feeling lost and depressed at times.
As I moved on, and chatted with my home nurse, my wife, and my family, I was realizing that most of all of these things were all in my head. Other people around me, didn’t notice, didn’t care or whatever. You fill in the blank….
This Article Is Written Because a Meme Struck Home
I was looking at my Facebook account last night and the following meme was published (shared) by a friend of mine. Now realize no ill will is intended by this meme, but a point of how badly people spell words today is the point here.
So after looking at this meme you can see why it is going around and being shared. It is kinda of light-hearted humor. But It smacked me of just how easily, sometimes…. maybe someone can smell my colon.
That is a real possibility. But Why Did I almost take offense to this? Well, because to a person with an ostomy, none of this is funny.
It is one of things that we most worry about, all day, every day.
No matter how good we have gotten at taking care of ourselves, something could happen. It really could. Then What?
Well if you have an ostomy you understand. Other people don’t know, and they don’t even know this exists.
Yes caring for mental health of a colostomy patient is a real thing, and not to be taken lightly.
Here’s is a real scientific research study where they do show that there really is a mental side that is big and really does need to be addressed by the ostomy owner.
Study Proves Mental Changes Are Necessary
A study entitled “Adjusting to bodily change following stoma formation: a phenomenological study” was conducted by Gabrielle Thorpe, Anthony Arthur, and Maggie McArthur from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK in 2015.
In this study here is the official conclusion statement. “Stoma formation can undermine an individual’s sense of embodied self. A concept of embodiment is proposed to enable the experience of living with a new stoma to be understood as part of a wider process of re-establishing a unity between body, self and world.”
Furthermore they concluded that “In defining a framework of care, individuals with a new stoma can be assisted to adapt to and accept a changed sense of embodied self.” Okay so in reading the study they found out what I am telling you from my first hand experience.
A person with a new stoma, can and will feel out of the ordinary. They are very self conscious of themselves, and they are now searching for a new identity where they can be comfortable again. And this does take time, to define, and to adjust too.
So if you are struggling then you are normal. You will struggle, but others are here for you. You Will Find A new identity and comfort level with yourself.
So in examining the results of this study on 12 stoma recipients over a twelve month period of time following the surgery for stoma formation.
Read More About Ostomy Life-View Related Posts Below
How Food Affects My Ostomy Pouch is a personal detailed list of foods I eat every day. Using this list I comment on how each food affects my ostomy pouch.
A very large roadblock in returning to normalcy was finding clothing. Colostomy clothing requires certain things be present to make them work for you.
George writes from first-hand experience about having a stoma and living with an ostomy. As a former cancer patient and a survivor of colon cancer, you can draw from his experiences. His goal is to help you as he shares the realities of living with an ostomy.