I had a major operation for Endometriosis at the end of June which led me to have a stoma bag for a year.
I wanted to share the reality of living with a stoma bag with you. Some days can be tough, especially when it causes discomfort and is weighing down on the stoma. But other days, it’s absolutely fine and you forget that it’s there.
Hopefully this will raise awareness of stoma bags and endometriosis and the realities can relate to someone with a stoma bag.
Firstly what is a stoma bag and why do I have it?
Usually an infection or cancer has spread to the surface of the bowel and surgery has included removing a part of the bowel. In my case, my infected endometrioma spread to my bowel, so they had to cut away some of it.
During surgery your body will need a new way to get rid of faeces (poo). In these cases, the surgeon will make an opening through your abdominal wall and bring the end of the bowel through the skin. This is called the creation of an ostomy or stoma (an artificial opening). The faeces (poo) is then collected in a stoma bag which is attached to your abdomen.
It’s a little weird that you have a bit of intestine sticking out of you!
So, what’s it really like living with a stoma bag?
Say goodbye to jeans
I practically lived in jeans, so this one was really hard for me to deal with. Usually the stoma bag gets in the way when zipping up your jeans, especially my TOPSHOP Joni jeans. Sob, I’ll have to wait for a year before I can wear them once again.
Also in case you were wondering the photographs of me wearing jeans was pre-op.
Baggy clothes are your best friend
You can’t wear tight clothing anymore (with the exception of leggings as they are stretchy), well I suppose you can but you’ll be uncomfortable. Baggy clothes will become your best friend. Say hello to joggers, culottes, oversized tees, stretchy skirts and jumpers.
Emptying the bag is gross
You have to squeeze poo out of your bag, so so gross and sorry if it’s TMI. When I first did it I was sick, but I’ve gotten used to it now – it’s part of my routine. You have to empty it 3-5 times a day too! Also, make sure you have baby wipes to clean the end of the stoma bag, there a life saver!
It makes noises unexpectedly
You’ll be sitting in a quiet room and all of a sudden it makes a noise (a fart)! So embarrassing but I’m slowly getting used to it.
Call it a name
To make the best out of a bad situation, give your stoma bag a name. Mine’s called Barry! You just have to laugh don’t you!
You can’t exercise for 6 months after the op
This is a hard one for me as I was told I can’t exercise for at least six months! I miss doing a bit of cardio and yoga.
Even when I start exercising again I can’t go at a million times per hour, I need to take it slow.
You live in pyjamas
Pyjamas are comfy right? I’ve found myself living in them! Although I do try and make an effort to get dressed these days. But while you’re recovering pyjamas will be your best friend.
Hugging is a bit awkward
I’ve found hugging to be a bit awkward if I’m completely honest. You have this huge bulge touching someone else’s clothing and it puts pressure on the stoma. I have to go at an angle to hug!
I hope you’ve found this post somewhat helpful, whether you’re intrigued to know what a stoma bag is or whether you’re someone living with a stoma bag. In all honesty, it was really hard adjusting to it at the beginning, but now that I’ve gotten used to it it’s not so bad. You just have a different way of living.
I’ve got to have it reversed in a year, so yes it’s only temporary. I know some have to wear a stoma bag for life and honestly I don’t know how I would deal with that.