Ostomy surgery can be stressful, even when you’re prepared.
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A common theme that comes up with new experiences is information overload. This often happens when we are doing our research and trying our best to become educated about new things.
Something that new patients are easily overwhelmed by are all the ostomy supplies and accessories out there! When you look at it, there are thousands of products available through dozens, if not, hundreds of different manufacturers both large and small.
Is it any wonder why new patients can get lost in all this?
In this article, I’ll be offering tips on how to approach this vast sea of information about ostomy products in a way that will help to reduce stress and make your post-operative transition go a little smoother.
I invite caregivers of people who have (or will soon have) an ostomy to also keep some of these tips and suggestions in mind; It’ll save you time and energy, I promise!
Of the first goals to strive for is to simplify ostomy care when you can.
From a practical standpoint, this could mean starting with only the basics: a wafer and a pouch (or just the pouch if you’re wearing a one-piece appliance). For many ostomates, this might be all that’s required to have a trouble-free ostomy life!
If you or your nurse decides that you need some additional products, then you can start researching them in detail.
Some patients believe that they should request free samples of any and every ostomy product under the sun as soon as they come home from the hospital. DON’T DO THIS! While it may be tempting, and while requesting samples is something I recommend to other patients, you should be doing it with the purpose of solving a problem or addressing a concern you have.
Ask yourself a few questions like:
- Do I really need to get samples of convex appliances?
- What will this new supply do for me?
- Is this supply even appropriate for the type of stoma I have or for the type of output my stoma produces?
The same rule applies to products you might have received as part of a “new patient kit” that some hospitals and manufacturers send out. These kits could include everything from pouch deodorants to barrier wipes to barrier rings – if you don’t have a specific need for those supplies, either set them aside or donate them to someone who can use them.
Don’t keep unneeded supplies with the ones you use regularly, or they’ll just clutter things up for you.
Not All Products Are Appropriate
It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you don’t know which products are right for you. Fortunately, there are ways to cut back on this, simply by casually looking over some of my product reviews or guides that I’ve put together.
Not only will this help you decide whether a product or accessory is even appropriate for your stoma, but it’ll also help to save you time, money (if paying for supplies), and energy because you don’t have to go through the process of experimenting on your own.
The product reviews, in particular, can be used to see what features one product might have over another, and then you can decide on whether to ask the manufacturer for samples or place an order for an accessory you had in mind.
The guides (one for ostomy supplies and the other for ostomy accessories) can be a great way to introduce you to various products and help to explain what they’re used for. After reading or watching one of my guides, you may simply decide that no more energy needs to be wasted on a specific product or accessory because you’ve seen that the won’t offer any added benefits to what you’ve got already.
At the same time, learning about these products will also help you plan for when you do need a specific product or accessory.
An example of this in action is the use of gelling products. I had spoken with a home care nurse who was caring for a patient that was having a difficult time managing their ostomy because of liquid output. I had asked whether she told this patient about gelling products and she hadn’t even heard of them. So I gave her some of the ones I had at home and she was able to educate and help this patient to make things easier on them.
In that example, the patient was already in need of a product and simply wasn’t aware that a solution existed. But sometimes you may have a need to use certain products on very rare occasions, and knowing about them can help you to be prepared.
Remember That Not All Information Will Apply to You
It’s easy to forget that every stoma is unique and that each of us required surgery for different reasons.
Why is this important? It’s important because while there may be an incredible amount of information out there, not everything you come across will be relevant or appropriate for your situation. Heck, some information can be downright harmful.
A new patient reading about blockages may be worried or upset, but it’s not going to be relevant if they have a urostomy. Reading about colon irrigation or closed pouches may seem foreign to someone with an ileostomy because these are topics they don’t have to worry about!
The hard part is to identify what information is relevant to you. This is often a mixture of experience and basic knowledge about your surgery.
Once you’re able to filter out the irrelevant information, you are left with things that will be helpful to you.
Education is a key part of becoming a successful ostomate.
While information can be helpful, it can also be overwhelming to new patients.
If we learn to simplify, filter out the irrelevant topics, and learn that not all products will work for everyone, we can better cope with the information overload.