An ostomy is a type of surgery that is made so that solid and liquid bodily waste can exit the body through an opening known as a stoma into an external pouch or bag that is medical grade. The ostomy procedure is done on male patients that have severe colon related issues and have impaired bodily function with regard to the secretion of waste.
If you have undergone an ostomy procedure, you may have all manner of qualms about dining out in public in front of people or by yourself. Here are some tips to make the transition easier.
Keep A Food Diary Or Journal
If you have never kept a journal of any kind, this may be a very new habit for you but it is a helpful one as it will ensure you are tracking the foods you are consuming. While the specifics may vary from case to case, certain foods may be discouraged by your doctor or you may be told to keep certain dishes to a minimum. If you are going to be dining out, particularly with a group of people, it can help to have everything listed in your food diary so you can order accordingly.
A food diary or journal is also a great tracker for day to day meals especially if you have been put on a caloric restriction plan of any kind. The result of eating certain meals and foods should be noted down in the diary as with an ostomy some stomach irritation or indigestion issues are to be expected and certain dishes can definitely make the situation worse. The urge to go to the bathroom after a meal or the number of times you go should be noted so you can avoid foods that needlessly trigger these urges and cause you discomfort.
Doing The Preparation
If you are dining out, you should ideally do so with a bit of preparation to ensure everything goes smoothly. Choose a dining partner or group who you are absolutely comfortable with so if there are any problems, you can leave or ask to be excused without causing offence. Do some reading online about the restaurant you are going to and what the menu looks like. You can compare notes with your diary and already have your order in mind before you step into the restaurant.
Oxygen has a tendency to build up when the meal times are discrepant (not at the same time each day) in the case of an ostomy, so bear that in mind and get a reservation at the correct time. Upon entry to the venue, do a quick scoping out to find out where the bathrooms are and if possible try to be seated only a short distance away. You may also want to pick a time that is not the peak time as the stoma can make noises that can be heard by others although this varies from case to case.
Some patients complain of slight leakages with their ostomy incision and resulting odor and this can occur due to an uneven skin surface or because skin is saggy and therefore not providing a good fit. A barrier ring for ostomy can provide a tighter and more comfortable fit so there is no leakage from the stoma at all and you do not risk getting embarrassed in public or having a stain on your clothing.
The last part of preparation should be having an emergency kit with you and wearing loose, comfortable and baggy clothing that can easily accommodate your ostomy bag. Carrying small necessities like air freshener can give you greater confidence in the restroom if you worry about odor being a problem.
When people dine out there can be a tendency to choose heavier meals that are more filling. If you have undergone an ostomy surgery lighter meals will most certainly suit you more so order accordingly.
Do not be swayed by an all-you-can-eat buffet as overeating can cause problems right away due to gas build up or blockages and that can even result in hospitalization. Try not to drink a lot of alcohol or even water between taking bites as that can cause a blockage too. Take small bites and take your time which is why it is easier to dine out with someone who understands your condition.
The above tip applies especially if you mostly have loose stools or have frequent problems with indigestion. Whenever possible opt for softer foods like soups or yogurt dishes and steer clear of very fatty and cheesy foods that take more energy to digest. Foods that have starch like bread or rice can help provide some extra fiber which can aid the loose output problem.
Have A Change Kit In Case
When you’re out and about anything can happen and there have been cases of an ostomy bag leaking in public due to any reason. Having a change kit on you in your backpack or in your car can help you in an emergency situation until you can see your doctor. Have a special key like RADAR so you can gain access to bathrooms that are meant for ill and disabled people and always carry a few disposal bags that seal tightly.
Next, carry wipes and tissues along with adhesive remover and have a brand new ostomy bag packed in your kit that is precut and measured. If your doctor has directed you to use special glue or other adhesive types like gels or paste, pack those too.
Have alcohol wipes or hand sanitizer and carry soap if you feel you may need to stop at a public bathroom. Having a dignity sheet or another sterilized sheet to lay out in a less-than-great bathroom can prevent your tools and items from getting contaminated on a dirty floor or sink area. Carry extra waste disposal bags as you may need to carry your old ostomy bag until you can find a waste bin.