How I coped with my new Stoma during Lockdown
Jan Ross underwent stoma surgery in February this year just before lockdown, after being diagnosed with rectal cancer. Here, Jan talks to Bladder and Bowel about how she coped learning how to manage her new stoma friend during these strange times.
We’d like to thank Jan for sharing her stoma journey. If you need support or information, you can find more about living with a stoma by visiting the Bladder and Bowel Community stoma hub.
I was first diagnosed with rectal cancer after I experienced rectal bleeding in June last year. After undergoing a combined course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I underwent the surgical part of my treatment this February to remove my rectum and create a permanent colostomy. Covid was only to be found in China and in Italy at this point so luckily there were no restrictions during my time in hospital and I received excellent care from my surgeon and cancer and stoma nurses but then as soon as lockdown started and I was at home, I then found that I had to cope with my new stoma alone and without access to my medical team.
Around 12 years previously, I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. I decided then that I wasn’t going to let cancer rule my life and this is the mindset I had towards my stoma, I had decided that I wasn’t going to let this phase me. For the most part, I found that I coped well and I worked out what I could and couldn’t eat. I avoided eating nuts and seeds but still found I could eat hot curries! The occasional noise causes my family much amusement! I did have a slight panic when my stoma supplies were delayed and then the order came wrong but I luckily had a few additional supplies to keep me going and I just had to buy some extra disposal bags until I could get my next delivery. Thankfully, everything has gone smoothly since with my deliveries.Even though I knew I couldn’t go in to see my stoma nurses, they were very good in letting me know that I could still contact them at any time if I needed to, so I felt very reassured by that.
Lockdown didn’t feel too much of a hardship for me as it gave me an excuse to spend time properly recovering from my surgery, plus I was still finding it very uncomfortable to sit for prolonged periods following my surgery. The hardest thing for me was not being able to see my grandchildren or have any visitors to my home.
I feel that although it has been challenging, I have now adapted to my stoma and accepted that it’s for forever, although I do worry about how I will cope with it when I’m older as I’m now 63 years. I would like to go on holiday later this year and I’ve been trying out new things with my stoma such as using a hot tub. I’ve decided that this is how things are though so I might as well get on with it.