From Stillwater-Ponca City (OK) Ostomy Outlook September 1997:

Ten Commandments for the New Ostomate

by Anita Price, via Rapides Parish (LA) CenLA Ostogram and Northwest AR Mail Pouch

  1. There is no answer for "Why Me?", but it is normal to ask the question and you need to work through the answer to this and other questions.

  2. Stomas change in size and shape the first few months after surgery. The initial swelling of your stoma will decrease and its diameter will decrease. Check the size of your stoma with a measuring guide every pouch change, until it stabilizes to its permanent size.

  3. Each person's ostomy is different even as our own fingerprints are different.

  4. Support and information from someone who has an ostomy can be helpful. Ask your doctor or E.T. nurse to arrange for an ostomy visitor.

  5. It is your ostomy. Learn to manage your ostomy and don't let your ostomy manage you! It is normal in the beginning for your ostomy to be the center of your existence; however, with time and practice, your ostomy and its care will become just a normal part of your daily life.

  6. Fundamental management techniques can be learned, and new experiences and any problems that may develop must be met and managed as they occur. As you learn and practice these new skills, you will become comfortable with your ostomy care. Do not confuse accidental leakage or spillage with what is normal or to be expected. If you have problems, consult your E.T.

  7. One of the most important goals for healthy living is good nutrition. The one difference in having an ostomy and setting your nutritional goals is that you need to take information provided for the general public and adapt it to your own needs, keeping ostomy management in mind.

  8. You are not alone! Surgeons make at least 500 ostomies every working day. One out of every 200 persons has an ostomy and over two million of us make up almost 1% of the US population. Support organizations are available to help you. There are over 1700 Enterostomal Therapists in the US and Canada and the United Ostomy Association has over 600 US chapters. [Ed. note: There are now under 500 US chapters; sadly, the number has been decreasing.]

  9. You're alive! You will get better and stronger as you recuperate from surgery. Give yourself time to get over ostomy surgery and to adjust to this body change and adapt to your ostomy.

  10. Share what you have learned with another new ostomate, with your family and friends and others. It is up to you who you tell you have an ostomy. As you grow accustomed to living with an ostomy, there will be opportunities to help others along the way. Remember your own experiences and the fear of the unknown and the helplessness until you met another who had traveled along the same road as you.

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Content last revised 1997-09-08