Be smart be prepared for ostomy issues.

Living in the United States is pretty awesome.  We generally want for basically nothing when it comes to all the needs we actually have.  So it is wonderful to have no major needs, but  I am an ostomate.  This means that I have a stoma and well it has been a part of my life for a long time now.  It is not a hassle and it really isn’t a health condition that has had a massive impact on my life.  I have to do a few daily routines differently, but other than that my life is basically the same.  But this year I saw a change in our economy and saw for the first time that I am completely dependent on our supply chain.  It is 2021, and I found out that the healthcare supply chain in the United States could have issues and could truly affect my life. I know that last year we had major issues and I don’t want to ever go through those again.

Covid changed our world and the race riots that were caused by political gain changed how we all live.  The reality is that this has not been a catastrophic deathly event for the world, but what it did was kill much of the world economy.  The United States almost shutdown overnight and since every state implemented different laws our supply chain ran into a true issue.  What we also saw was that most of our medical supplies we found out were imported from other countries.  This meant that all my ostomy gear was reliant on being imported and then shipped to my home.  For a time our ports when into lockdown and we panicked. Panic is not cool and it happened. 

Cities burned and we saw police stop working all over the country.  This is an area I don’t want to get into detail about, but in several major cities supplies simply were not being delivered.  It brought to mind the thought that I could really be in trouble if I lived in those areas.  I may have absolutely no options to get ostomy gear and getting out was simply not safe.  That brought me to my current state.  But what happens if this is in your city and you are not able to get shipments? Do you have enough to last for a few months?

For me, I am out of luck.  I only keep a month’s gear on hand.  I am actually in trouble. That is a scary thought because I have always been able to go and get something at my local pharmacy if I was short on an item.  Or if I have been traveling there is usually always a local store that I can find something that will work for me.  But now knowing that there are true situations that are not hurricane-based that can cause the supply chain to stop, kinda scared me. So my goal is to put up a month or two of extra supplies, just in case this happens to me or if it happens to someone I know.  I will be able to help out and provide some extra care. I know this is rare and may never happen, but it did last year all over this country.  I feel better being safe than sorry. 

Growing Up with a Stoma

For many people a stoma only happens later in life. But if you had a medical reason for having an ostomy surgery while you were young then life has been a little different.  It can be hard growing up with a medical condition of any kind because kids and especially high schoolers are simply brutal.  I am not saying that it is impossible to have a normal life, but just saying it could be a little more complicated.  Locker rooms can be a little bit harder and friends can actually be the answer to many problems.  But really I want to go over some misconceptions of growing up with a stoma and going over how most people with an ostomy really live normal lives.  I mean it, they actually live the same lives as those around them with only a few extra things to think about on a daily basis.

First of all I should give you a little background about myself.  I ended up with a stoma right around my 10th birthday.  I also grew up in the midwest part of the United States.  This means that I grew up in one of the most competitive sports locations in the world. Luckily, my genetics allowed me to have a fast and agile, sports oriented body.  Having a stoma was not really an option nor an excuse to not play basketball or football in my location.  Honestly, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It is most likely a bonus to grow up with a stoma, because my abdominal muscles have been strong ever since.  I have literally worked on my ab strength since I was very young and it has allowed me to adapt much faster than I think people do when they get an ostomy later in life. 

So what is it like to play basketball with a stoma.  Well I would say it was a bit complicated at first.  Gear was simply not as good back then and it was hard to run around with a floppy bag.  I went through lots of belts and under armour shirts in order to keep my bag from moving so much.  But as I got older technology simply got better.  Seals became better and bags were created with easy belt access.  I ended up really enjoying smaller bags, with the ability to put an elastic belt through the exterior of it and strat it to my body.  This eliminated movement and allowed perfect seals.  Smells were a think of the past but lets face it I still smelled pretty bad with all the sweat going on.  That was also a great innovation was clothing.

Ostomy bags really stuck out when sweat was stuck to it and my shirt.  So the advancement of moister wicking t-shirts and super breathable materials in the last decade has been a wonderful thing. Clothing has gone far beyond under armour skin tight shirts and now it allows my body to breath and sweat to not stick to my bag.  It allows me to honestly play basketball with no one knowing that I have a stoma.

So I want to let people know that you can be very active with a stoma and even play competitive sports. In fact as long as your doctor says its ok I would suggest doing it.  It was a great confidence builder for me and allowed me to get a strong group of friends who accepted me for me.

Benefits of Living with an Ostomy

I believe that most people think of having an injury as a problem.  Very few people will ever talk about the positives of having an ostomy or living with a stoma. It really is a stigma that hovers over all people who have a stoma and it is something that I would like to partially refute.  There are indeed some situations that are actually made better by wearing a bag.  Shocking for sure the thought it to some, but living with an ostomy is not all bad and contrary to popular belief, it is actually beneficial in some cases. So what ways can a stoma be a good thing. Lets start off with one of my favorites and that is on road trips.

If you have a family or grew up with a family that took road trips then you understand the craziness that they can be.  I know for myself that spending so much time with your siblings and parents is a crazy time.  There are fights, and yelling all while being trapped in a small confined space.  So noise levels get higher and patients gets much lower.  It is still important to know that having a ostomy is beneficial in this situation and that is probably pretty obvious why.  If not then you have most likely forgetting about the many bathroom trips that were involved in your past trips. The ability to attach a larger bag and possibly not have to stop at all during a road trip is amazing. 

Now sometimes when I say road trip I really just mean driving alone.  If you are in sales then having the ability to not have to stop ever few hours for a bathroom break is an awesome advantage. Traveling sales is hard and being able to cover more ground fast then anyone else gives you a vast advantage.  This is where your stoma becomes your friend and certainly can help you not only travel further but be more financially profitable.  No one ever talks about how some people can simply do more and faster, but that is indeed a trick of some of the best traveling salesman of all time.  They simply have a stoma.  The next one is also a surprising thought and that is that having a stoma helps hunters.

If you have ever been hunting and had to go to the bathroom then you know the pain of the tree stand.  Nothing is worse then preparing for the whole year to have hours and days of time wasted on a bathroom trip or really bad fart.  It sounds funny, but it is true and many hunts are stopped by nature in its most natural way.  But if you have an ostomy bag and it is also really scent protected you have an edge on many hunters.  You can hunt longer and no have to leave your scent anywhere.  You can also use scent free bags to mask all of that going on. It really is a great advantage when hunting game that has a very keen sense of smell. Most animals have better smelling capabilities than humans so this is a great leg up on the hunting game.

So don’t belive everything you hear, these are just a few ways that having an ostomy is a good thing. Not to mention the reason you have it may have saved your life.  So feel good, and spread the word that life is ok and so is having a stoma.

Ensuring Total Skin Health With An Ostomy

If you want to feel good, you are going to have to aim to look good. For most people looking good is limited to skincare only. The fact of the matter is that it should be seen in a much broader perspective. A well-toned body with no muscle deposits is the key to look good. Even if we limit beauty to the outlook of skin, it would involve taking care of your health in a proper way. Your skin is the largest organ of the body. To make it look good, you are going to have to pay attention to the health of body systems that play an active role in skin health.

Skin health depends significantly on its moisture level. If there is enough fluid in your system, your skin will draw the amount of water it needs. The vice versa is easily understandable: if there is not enough water in your body, your skin will suffer from dryness, which is the number one reason for poor skin health.

You may wonder what all of this has to do with an ostomy. You are going to have to understand the functionality of the colon. The colon, due to its ability to absorb water from the stool, is known as re-hydrator, which means that it has a role of a reservoir for the body. An ostomy, particularly ileostomy, involves complete removal of the colon, which means that the body cannot use the colon to maintain required fluid levels. In can increase the risk of dehydration.

The loss of fluids for people with ostomies is major. That’s why we will need to talk about its impact on the body, especially on the total skin. It also means that ostomates have to be particularly mindful of the level of fluids in their bodies.

Getting much-needed moisture

The first and foremost rule, whether you have an ostomy or not, is to pay attention to your fluid intake if you are running the risk of dehydration. That’s where it becomes crucial to understand the ability of some beverages that can reduce water level instead of replenishing it. Those beverages typically include tea, coffee, and soft drinks. You don’t need to avoid those drinks entirely. You can take them in moderation to avoid any side effects. What you are going to have to pay attention to is the water intake. It should help you maintain a healthy moisture level in your body’s skin.

To maintain a healthy moisture level in your body skin, you can consider using moisturizing products. If you are not much aged, you can consider using lotions because they are lightweight. If you are facing dryness due to aging skin, you can use creams.

If you have an ostomy and you are concerned about its impact on your body skin, you can ask your ostomy care nurse for useful tips.