Even though you knew you would have a stoma, waking up after surgery and realising it’s there can be a difficult transition for anyone. Add to this the normal stresses of surgery and you may feel many unexpected emotions, perhaps fear, sadness, and anger, just to name a few.
This is normal so allow yourself time to feel whatever you need to.
Chances are you were not too healthy prior to surgery, or a colonoscopy had revealed a problem. Waking up with a stoma and wearing a stoma pouch can be hard to take in but it is a positive step towards health and recovery.
Looking at your stoma for the first time may cause some emotion. Having your Stoma Nurse or someone you trust with you may help.
Your Stoma Nurse
While in hospital, your Stoma Nurse will show you how to care for your ileostomy or colostomy. The Nurse is a qualified professional with additional training in all aspects of this type of post-operative care and will be able to assist you before, during and after your ostomy.
Most large hospitals will have a Stoma Nurse and smaller facilities may employ a nurse in a part-time dual position.
Your Stoma Nurse remains your primary contact for information, support, for ordering your stoma supplies and assisting with the ongoing management of your stoma.
Caring for the stoma
The stoma may look large at first but will shrink to its final size about 6 to 8 weeks post-surgery. The shape will be round to oval. It may stick out a little or be flat against the skin. The stoma will look pink to red in colour and appear moist. A stoma bleeds easily if it is rubbed too hard and can be particularly sensitive in the early months post-surgery. Any bleeding should stop quickly but if it persists or if blood is coming from within the stoma, contact your Stoma Nurse right away.
There are no nerve endings in the stoma so it will not be painful or feel uncomfortable. There may also be a ‘bridge’ (supporting rod) going underneath the stoma to support it for the first few days.