Your First 12 Weeks After Surgery
In the hospital
Your stoma surgery is finished, and you have been transferred to the recovery ward to rest. After your surgery, your stoma therapy nurse will talk to you about the operation, help you understand what has happened to your body and teach you how to manage your new stoma as you recover in the hospital and transition to home care. Depending on your needs, you may also get referrals to other specialists or clinics for more help.
It is important to remember that everyone is different and we all adapt to change in different ways. The support you can expect to receive from your nurse will always be geared toward your individual needs. There are many people like you who have had the same operation and your doctors and nurses are there to listen and help.
You’ve been discharged and you are at home. For many people, surgery can be the beginning of a more comfortable life. But it still requires adjusting to life with a stoma—physically and mentally.
Although your stoma surgery is complete, you may still have many questions and concerns—particularly during the first 12 weeks of living with a stoma. You may feel nervous, confused or angry. You may be excited by the freedom, improved health and new activities you can enjoy after healing from your surgery. Or you may have a mixture of these emotions. All of these reactions are perfectly normal.
You are not alone. Your stoma therapy nurse and healthcare professionals are there to help you every step of the way. So are we. They’ll be able to connect you with a range of ostomate support groups, helping you better understand the changes in your life.
Your “new normal"
During the first few months after stoma surgery, it is important to recognize that you and your loved ones will be undergoing a major period of adjustment. Having a stoma means you must adapt to a new ‘normal’ way of life.
Whether you have had a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy, you will need to learn how to manage the passage of body waste through your stoma, as well as how to care for the skin around your stoma.
For the first six to eight weeks, your stoma will most likely shrink in size. Regular measuring of your stoma ensures you are wearing the correct pouching system size, increases your confidence and reduces discomfort.
Over time, you will feel much more comfortable with your new lifestyle as stoma management becomes just another part of your daily routine. During this initial adjustment period, however, keep in close contact with your stoma therapy nurse. The answers to any problems or concerns are usually just a phone call away.