Frequently Asked Questions

You are not alone!

So you have just had ostomy surgery! Do you feel as if the bottom has dropped out of your world? Your doctor has just shown you your new ostomy for the first time. You cannot visualize how it is going to be from now on. You wonder if you will ever become accustomed to this strange thing. Be assured, you will in time!

An ostomy is a life-saving surgical procedure that diverts your body’s wastes into an ‘appliance’ or pouch fastened to your abdomen. You can say “Woe is me.” or you can accept it. This ostomy has saved your life and in time, you will learn to deal with it.

You will find that as time goes on, the bewilderment will disappear and problems you encountered initially will be greatly minimized. You will be delighted to realize that you can still lead a perfectly normal life: swim, dance, work, travel and participate in activities just the same as before and even be able to do more things than before surgery.

Yes, at first, you will be all thumbs tackling whichever ostomy you have. As you become more familiar with your appliance, the time you spend on ostomy care will be cut in half. With the new ostomy supplies now available, your task will eventually become easier and automatic.

Don’t be discouraged. Summon up all your courage to see through this phase of your rehabilitation. Remember, all of us went through this period of adjustment and we are available for help whenever needed – if only to bolster your morale.

Welcome to our group.

If you are feeling dejected, disheartened and isolated – your are not alone! Do you know that there are thousands of ostomates in Canada? May we introduce ourselves. We are members of the Hamilton & District Ostomy Association, who have been there and would like to welcome you to our group, which is an affiliated chapter of the Ostomy Canada Society – a non-profit charitable organization.
You will not be able to recognize us on the street! Believe it or not, we are no different in appearance or attitude than anyone else. Young and old alike have various types of ostomies. They may have colostomies, ileostomies, urostomies or other surgical procedures that alter the body’s plumbing. Ostomates are from all walks of life. Hard to believe? We, too, had our doubts initially. But we say again – Believe! After all, only a portion of our body has changed – our aptitudes, our brain and our personality are still the same.

We have all had a few minor problems becoming adjusted, but that is part of the learning process We can share with you some of our experiences and acquired knowledge to help you return to a normal life. Bear in mind, that we all have different stomas, so we must generalize. We do not give medical advice, so if you have medical concerns, contact your family doctor or an enterostomal therapist (ET) through the local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC). Keep smiling! Better yet – laugh! After all, who really wants the alternative?

Frequently asked questions by new ostomates.

Q. Will everyone know?
A. Not unless you wish to tell them.

Q. Will I bulge?
A. Not unless you did before. Even slim fitting clothes, swimsuits and gym shorts can be worn comfortably.

Q. Will I smell?
A. Modern appliances are made with odour-proof materials. Special deodorants are also available if needed.

Q. Will my ostomy make noises?
A. Probably- sometimes more than at other times. Noise can partly be controlled by diet.

Q. What can I eat?
A. This will vary with the individual. Most will have few restrictions. By gradually introducing foods into your diet one at a time you will soon learn what foods you can tolerate. Trial and/or error will tell you the answer. The best advice should come from your doctor or ET Nurse.

Q. Can I exercise?
A. Certainly, you can and should. Don’t try too much too soon – you may not want to go off the high tower immediately – just do what comes naturally, always testing before overdoing!

Q. What about travelling?
A. Just make sure you take enough ostomy supplies to last the trip. You might feel safer taking more than enough, in case of an unexpected layover or emergency.

Q. What about sex?
A. That is a question that only you can answer. How was it before the surgery? An ostomy does not mean the end of intimacy. If in doubt, consult your doctor.

Q. Will I be a social outcast?
A. Not unless you were before. In fact, you may find that if you tell people about your ostomy they just might say, “You’ve got a lot of guts” or “You’re a fighter”.

Q. Will I ever get used to my ostomy?
A. Sooner than you think! In time, you will become accustomed to your new equipment and find the times spent in the bathroom much shorter.

All is not lost – only bits of you have been rearranged.

Most major cities in Canada have local ostomy associations with libraries or resource materials and friends to help you develop greater knowledge and confidence. Sharing your concerns with someone who has an ostomy can help you to overcome your fears.

We are all ‘ostomates’ and we wish to welcome you.

You are not alone!