**Ostomy O-Week** PART 4 – DAILY LIFE AS AN OSTOMATE

Part 4 of Ostomy Orientation Week is about Daily life with an Ostomy – Showering, sleeping, what to wear, exercise, smell and sex with a stoma.

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1. SHOWERING WITH A STOMA……🛀🚿 BAG ON OR OFF???
This is a purely personal but often highlight debated topic! I tried showering with it off a few times and got annoyed with it misbehaving and dealing with the mess when I was trying to dry myself, so I personally prefer to shower with my bag on. There is no reason that the bag can’t get wet, but again my personal preference is to avoid getting it too wet (purely for comfort and durability sake). On the days I’m not changing my bag I keep my back to the shower and use the handheld shower head to rinse off and limit the splash factor! On the days I change my bag (normally straight after my shower), I completely saturate it and myself and boy does it feel good! 🚿🚿 🛀 🛀

So what’s the consensus? Do you shower with your bag on or off?

2. SLEEPING WITH A STOMA 
What’s a comfortable sleeping position? Have you had to change your preferred sleeping position since surgery? I’m most comfortable sleeping on my side or my back, so this still works well for me! If the bag fills up overnight and I’m tired or don’t want to get out of the warm doona, I find laying on my side can be a bit tricky (only because I am more conscious of the bag – it kind of gets in my way and I’m worried I’m going to roll over and pop it!), so I lay on my back until I’m ready to get up! Luckily I was never a belly sleeper! I usually have to get up at least once during the night to empty or ‘burp’ my bag (I get quite gassy during the night), and I don’t find that the time of my evening meal makes any difference to this. It’s almost like a built in alarm clock – I always seem to wake up just in time.

What are your experiences? Any tips of sleeping more comfortably with your ostomy bag?

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3. FASHION 👗👖👙👠 Have you changed what you wear since ostomy surgery?
My wardrobe hasn’t changed much at all since surgery. The main difference is I wear looser, longer tops than before (but this is a personal choice). I’ve also switched from a bikini to a one piece, but I hope to feel confident rocking a 2 piece again at some point soon ☺ I recently bought my first pair of undies designed specifically for ostomates from 4me Underwear and I’m absolutely loving the support and comfort I feel wearing them (more on this in another post!). I don’t get dressed up that often these days, but there’s absolutely no reason we can’t still look sexy and stylish with a stoma, right?!

DO YOU HAVE ANY CLOTHING TIPS OR OSTOMY FASHION ADVICE?

4. EXERCISE WITH AN OSTOMY
I’ve never been a gym junkie or one to do much in the way of sport. My exercise routine mainly consists of lots of walking (we love to go hiking), a bit of yoga and the occasional bike ride. I’ve done all of these without any problem with my ostomy. I love the freedom of being able to go on long walks and not having to worry about needing a toilet like I did during a bad Crohn’s flare. On some long hikes I’ve had to nurse my rather full stoma bag for a few kilometres, but a toilet is never too far away (or there’s always the bushes if you’re desperate!). 🎽 🏈 🏂 ⚽ 🚶 🚲 🎾🏊

Does anyone play any team sports or do more strenuous exercise with a stoma. What do you do to keep fit with an ostomy? Any issues or tips?

5. DO I SMELL?! 😷😷😷
One of my biggest concerns pre surgery was SMELL. It was hard to imagine how there wouldn’t be some kind of odour coming from the ostomy bag that would be attached to my abdomen collecting my poo! I was assured that there wouldn’t be though, and I now know I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Most ostomy bags have inbuilt filters, so unless you have a leak, there’s no smell at all.

Emptying your bag on the other hand is a different story! I know I don’t smell, and when everything is contained in the bag there is no aroma whatsoever. However, ileostomy poo does smell different to regular poo! My family often lovingly “comment” on the stench I leave in the bathroom after I’ve emptied my bag. My mum says it smells like peas and carrots which isn’t so bad is it?!

I’ve grown used to the smell now, but I am conscious when using public toilets and especially the toilets at my work, as I know it’s quite a strong and different smell if you’re not accustomed to it! Some foods can make output smellier too.

I haven’t tried any, but there are many specialised ostomy deodorisers and other products you can get to help with the smell when emptying and changing your bag.

Does anyone have any recommendations or tips to share on combatting smell??

6. BAGS IN THE BEDROOM: How do you feel about sex with an ostomy? 
I’ve been with Michael for almost 19 years, so he’s been with me through it all! He’s done and seen some things I won’t repeat and I’m sure he’d rather forget! I am incredibly lucky to have him as I know many guys might not have stuck around for all the shit (literally). My ostomy bag doesn’t faze him at all, and that helps it not faze me. I was 33 when I had surgery and haven’t been single or dated with an ostomy, so I am probably not the best person to give advice on this! I am very comfortable with Michael (perhaps too comfortable sometimes!!), so I don’t hide or cover my bag in the bedroom. I let it all hang out! There are lots of sexy items you can buy if you’d rather cover up though. 💑💏 You can still have great sex with a stoma!!

Please share any tips or advice! I would love to hear from others on this topic …..

 You can read responses from other ostomates on the Stomalicious FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM page.

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