If you know you are having ostomy surgery, there are ways you can prepare ahead of time. Doing some of the prep work prior makes for a shorter admission period, allows you to feel and heal quicker, and makes for an easier transition back to your regular life.

Ask Questions

Before surgery, you’ll most likely have a few appointments with the doctors, nurses, and surgeons involved in giving you your ostomy. Make the most of these appointments by asking questions – whether it be about what surgery will be like or what life will be like outside of the hospital with your ostomy.

Prepare Your Supplies

Get an idea of what you might like to “dress” your stoma in before you ever even have one! You will find that many ostomy supply companies will provide free samples. Getting these samples before surgery will give you an idea of what you may want to use. You can even bring these to the hospital to try out. If you find something that works well for you, you will be able to order these pouches or flanges before you ever even leave the hospital! That way, you’ll have supplies when you head home.

Maggie before surgery

Prepare Your Body

You are probably preparing for ostomy surgery because you have an illness that an ostomy may assist with. Even though you are working towards the ultimate goal of improved health, there are things you can do prior to surgery to help your body get through the process! Eating a well-balanced diet approved by your physician, staying hydrated, exercising as your body allows you, and getting enough sleep at night will help your body be in optimal shape for surgery. Healing is hard work!

Prepare Your Mind

Mentally preparing yourself is easier said than done. There are a few things to keep in mind when planning for surgery. Know that those first few bag changes you do after surgery will not be perfect. It takes practice and patience to make a flange stick, and with time you will gain that skill!

Prepare Your Home

Having the space where you will do a majority of your recovery ready for your arrival is a key aspect to healing. Have your bed or sleeping area prepared with fresh linens. Ensuring you’ll be able to access that area is also important. If you will not be able to make it up stairs after surgery, ensure there is an area for you to rest downstairs. Having meals ready to go is also a great idea! Gentle meals that have been approved by your doctor are always nice to have at hand, so you won’t be struggling to nourish yourself after surgery.

 

By preparing in the previously mentioned ways, you are assisting yourself in the healing process. Surgery is not easy for anyone, but these steps can improve your outcome!

  • – Maggie Baldwin, Patients’ Champion Coordinator

Hello all! Hope you’re feeling great and ready to start a beautiful week. What can you do to make this week positive? For me, personally, I will continue to do Yoga! This is a new and great thing in my life and I can’t wait to see the results. I hope you all find something to help you stay smiling! Maybe this beautiful sunset will help with that!

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To continue where I left off, I’d like to share my experience of the first week going home after my surgery. What information is now new? Who was there to help me?  And how I managed this life changing and surprising operation?

After waking up and managing eating, changing supplies, walking, and drinking fluids I was sent home with medication to keep me in the least amount of pain possible. The car ride home, I would say, was the hardest. Every bump and sudden stop felt like no other pain I had every come across in my 19 years. I felt scared, worried, overwhelmed, and unprepared. You know what kept me going more than anything else? My motivation to get better. Before my surgery I was going to class in pain, misery, and sadness. I would come home from class to lay in my dorm bed alone. I wasn’t living. But now, when school starts I would feel stronger and better and could hang out with friends in between classes and on weekends. I would have a fresh start in my life and this bag gave me that.

I came home to stay with my mom for a little over a month until it was time to go back to school. I was given instructions on how to bathe, eat, take pills, but not the most important instructions a new patient needs; how to change my bag. I had to do the whole “trial by error” thing and sample different supplies until I could figure what worked best for me. I did have my Nana help me some and give me advice on what products she liked because she too had a bag. Four days later I was back in the hospital to manage my pain (August 1st 2013).

I returned to Cedars with my Mom by my side and was yet again was admitted to the hospital for another 5 days. I had abdominal pain, I couldn’t eat at all while I was home, and I had decreased output. I was discouraged once again being back in the hospital but what did help was the kind nurses that remembered me and came in to say hello. As well and my mom watching movies with me and helping to keep my mind off things.

They took care of me and the pain team came in and gave me some other medications to try and it helped tremendously. That led to me wanting to eat more and eventually I was good to go home.

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This was a set back but I didn’t let it keep me down or discourage me. I would keep pushing forward and stay positive. A month later, I started to become active in my sorority, started speaking up more in classes, and going out to events. I even went to my first party in college. I was finally the me that I was always supposed to be. I was happy that I got a second chance to live the life I always deserved.

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  • – Kristen Furey, Patient Champion

Hello patients, family, spouses, researchers, friends, and anyone interested. I’m going to be honest while telling you my story. Life is HARD with an Ostomy. It’s really the way you decide to live your life and who you decide to share your struggles and accomplishments with. I’m not going to tell you the RIGHT way to handle a disease, or tell you it’s easy having an Ostomy, but how I personally do it. Maybe just maybe this can help you. I very much hope so!

My name is Kristen Furey and I have Crohn’s disease and an ileostomy. I have not always been the one to share this with pretty much anyone, but starting now I will change that. I grew up in a small town called Galt in Northern California. I was active in sports and theater and one day on the soccer field I slowed down. I was 12 years old. Months later I learned I had a stomach disorder. They first diagnosed me with a disease called Celiac. This meant I had to go on a wheat free diet. How fun does that sound? About a year later they told me they got it wrong. Finally I found a doctor that made the Crohn’s Disease diagnosis. Things went downhill from there.

I’m going to fast forward a bit to when I was 18 years old getting ready to start my first year in college. At this point I was so sick you could tell from just looking at me. No way would I let that keep me from going to college and one day living my dream in theatre.

Kristen 3

So here I am. This is actually one of the few pictures I have from my first year in college. Well actually I got this off my moms Facebook. I couldn’t keep those pictures. They upset me every time I looked at them and thought of what I went through. But now, as I’m writing this and thinking about what I DID go through. I see it as a huge success. I have gained 50 pounds and made some progress that I should be proud of, right?

One year later I left my house headed to Cedars Sinai, a hospital I never heard about. I had an appointment with a doctor my uncle heard about from a friend and we were desperate to find anyone that could help. I was on no medication and had no medical attention for the past few months, if not a year. I vaguely remember that day. That oh so life changing day I had. I met Dr. Dubinsky and after she took one look at me she sternly told me, “You are not leaving here until you get surgery.” My heart stopped a little and my stomach was in knots. I had no idea what to expect but I did know that I had to listen to this woman I had just met and let her save my life. After establishing that Dr. Fleshner would be my surgeon I was admitted into the hospital.

Without going into too much detail I was firstly given a PICC line. That was my favorite part! Okay..I’m joking. But this gave me a ton of nutrition I needed in the meantime. Fleshner came in (I always call him by his last name) and did a quick consult and the decision was made. I had a diverting loop ileostomy done on July of 2013 and it went successful.  I woke up the next day in that bed in pain and scared holding my moms hand. She was and is the most important person in my life. She was there for me no matter what, and I knew we would get through this together. Ten days later I was released to go home.

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So there you have it. This is the beginning to my story. There’s so much more to share, so keep reading and I will add on every week. Until then, keep smiling…it always helps me no matter what.

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-Kristen Furey

Patient Champion