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As your body heals following stoma surgery, you may be wondering how to improve your fitness and find the resources you need to live your life to the fullest. Learn how Scott Green got back in shape and found support after getting a stoma.
Tell us a bit about your story. What led to you having surgery, and how long have you been living with a stoma?
I had Ulcerative Colitis since 1976 at the age of 16. In 2007, I had my first surgery for a temporary stoma, and then an unsuccessful reversal in 2008. I’ve had a permanent ileostomy since 2009. I was managing a warehouse, as well as picking orders and loading trucks during the years of surgery. It was difficult lifting heavy items.
Did you do any sports or activities, and did your stoma have an impact on continuing them?
I ride bikes and play tennis. I slowly returned to both activities.
What resources did you use that were helpful for you (i.e., products, websites, people, places, groups, etc.)?
In the early days, I was overwhelmed, and having awful thoughts. There seemed to be little support. Then I found an informal support group formed by members of the Ostomy Association of Melbourne (Australia). Supplier representatives have also been helpful. Some suppliers have open days, and a chance to chat with other people living with a stoma is beneficial. More recently, I have joined several worldwide Facebook stoma-related groups.
Do you have any tips that might help others?
I have some tips specific to a bike riding which some might find interesting. When road cycling I wear lycra bib shorts. I have a tailor trim a 45mm hole in the shorts that is level with my stoma. I put the stoma bag through the hole, and my shirt covers it. It’s easy to empty the bag while on a ride.
Tell us a bit about the importance of networking and ostomy-related support groups.
Support groups are very helpful. Not for technical knowledge, but for knowing that you’re not alone. In my personal opinion, since ostomates are a small portion of the general population, it’s unlikely that you would know another one in general life.
Anything else that would be helpful?
More back-up from Ostomy Associations. In Australia, ostomy associations provide supplies to clients on behalf of the Federal Health Department. They are in an ideal position to connect with people with stomas, and provide more help, support, and referrals.
Before resuming sports and fitness activities, be sure to seek appropriate guidance from your healthcare team. Everyone is different; don’t expect to get right back to exercising immediately. It is important to have a clear understanding of how your body has responded to your ostomy surgery first.
For more information on getting back in shape after ostomy surgery, read Living With an Ostomy – Sports & Fitness.
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