Among the types of serious medical conditions in the world, there exists a dividing line between those we speak about with others, and those we don’t. For instance, we might talk about skin cancer with our friends, or hip replacement with our family. Women are more apt to speak about breast cancer today than they were 20 years ago, and men might even discuss their vasectomies with their buddies.
But when the condition is one that affects the consistent removal of body waste from one’s body, and the person requires an ostomy, discussion usually ends. In a word, an ostomy is not an oft-breached topic in our daily lives, unless you are the one living with it. When a person’s body can’t rid itself of its bodily waste in normal ways, due to a prior disease, medical procedure or other circumstance, an ostomy is generally needed. In most medical language, an ostomy is a surgical opening in the body to rid of a person’s stool waste or urine liquid. This waste collects in a removable ostomy pouch, which is worn by the person on the outside of the body and is emptied when the need arises.
The word ‘ostomy’ usually refers to the opening itself, and is usually prefaced by a short word in front of it to describe the part of the body that is afflicted and needs the removal of the waste. This is why we are more familiar with words like ‘colostomy’ (waste via the colon), ‘urostomy’ (waste via urinary tract), or ‘ileostomy’ (part of the small intestine). This helps people to understand the full nature of the disease.
When a person is afflicted with an ostomy-related condition, his or her life can change in many ways. From the foods they eat, to the physical activities they attempt, ostomy patients have to exercise more caution and care when in public, as the onset of symptoms from the disease could have troublesome social implications.
Ostomy patients have many needs over the long term to deal with. At the start of the process, caregivers can offer help with the basic needs of ostomy patients, and work with home medical equipment supply companies and hospitals to provide more ongoing long-term support.
Because of the unspoken nature of ostomy illnesses, there are a number of associations that support and encourage different types of ostomy patients. The United Ostomy Associations of America provide a number of publications and support groups that can help ostomy patients get through post-surgery transition into a new life.
In addition, there are a number of medical supplies companies like Symbius Medical and others that offer assistance via products, service and training to patients with ostomy needs.
Training therapists, along with doctors and nurses, can help an ostomy patient to learn how to use his or her new medical equipment. Patients are encouraged to remove waste regularly from the worn pouch, and clean and maintain the ostomy and ostomy pouch to safeguard ones’ health.