This will be a relatively short post, but I'll do my best to give as much information for why I have chosen each tip, so here goes.
1. It does get better.
Trust me, you may feel absolutely terrible after you have your stoma initially, but it does get better over time. If you've read my first Post-op Blog Post, then you'll know that I was struggling at the beginning and it was hard to come to terms with it. I even spent the afternoon in hospital looking for private medical services to come round daily and help me with changing and emptying.
It wasn't a quick process though and took around a month to become confident. Just remember, it does get better!
2. Look after your skin.
I cannot stress this enough. You need to look after your skin. Especially around the stoma and, more importantly, where your bag will sit. Men, shaving the area does help!
If you don't keep on top of your skin care, it can lead to infections. This is something I had to deal with, so I'm warning you ahead of time. Be sure to ask the stoma care team for different types of wipes/creams in order for you to work out which one is best to use.
3. Don't follow all the rules!
While some rules will need to be followed for obvious reasons, don't feel like you have to do it by the book. Every person living with a stoma is different, and just because someone has told you to do it one way, doesn't mean you have to follow. Initially I thought I was doing everything wrong and I was constantly asking what the correct method was for certain things (especially emptying), but I came to realise that I can do it however I want. Whatever made me feel comfortable, made me happy. I didn't care that it took me ten minutes to empty. I didn't care that I used a jug of water to empty my stoma, rather than squeezing it out with my hands. Just remember, there is no wrong way of doing it.
4. Try not to get stressed.
Pardon the pun, but I cannot stress this enough. Suffering with stress doesn't seem to help the situation. After my second operation, I found myself getting so stressed with working out the process, that I ended up making myself seriously ill. Stress plays a major factor while you have a stoma, so the best you can do to keep it under control, the better you will feel overall. Take your time with everything, don't ever feel like you have to rush. Be as calm as you can.
The things I've found to help with this are to listen to music or walk somewhere. Even if it's just a short walk around the street, it does help.
5. Eat plenty of Salt.
If you've not had your stoma long, you may not already know this - you need to add salt to your diet. You no longer have your large intestine to absorb the salts from your food, so in order to get the dose you need, you'll need to up your intake. I first found this when I started to crave salt. Now I cannot live with out. I literally have it on everything... within reason.
You don't have to follow all these tips - they're just ones that I could think of at the time of writing this post. I'd love to hear your tips, so if you have any you would like to share, please tweet me @Frayzurr.
Thanks for reading! :-)