Ostomy For Teens
Being a teenager can be challenging enough, so needing an ostomy on top of all the other changes your body is going through can make it even harder.
But don’t worry − although it can be a steep learning curve, eventually having an ostomy will become part of your normal daily routine.
It’s completely normal to feel anxious when you first get an ostomy – some of the thoughts and worries that might go through your head are:
Three Things To Remember
Remembering this is easier said than done though, right? Which is why we want to answer a few worries you might have…
You might think that other people will somehow be able to tell that you have an ostomy, just by looking at you. This really isn’t the case – more people have ostomies than you realise so you’ve probably walked past people with ostomies in the street without knowing.
You can easily maintain control over who knows about your ostomy. Only tell people that you trust (e.g. closest friends and family). Make sure they understand that this is very personal information to you so they shouldn’t tell other people about it without your permission. If you do want to tell some people, try to plan and rehearse what you’re going to say so that you’re not caught off-guard. You could tell most people that you were very ill for a while, which is why you were off school for so long, but you’ve had an operation and are now feeling much better. You don’t need to tell them any more than that, unless you want to. It’s extremely unlikely that the people you tell will change their feelings towards you, although they may be curious and ask questions.
You might actually find that your ostomy brings an end to embarrassing symptoms that have previously led to bullying.
Nobody should have to put up with bullying, whether or not they have an ostomy! If you ever feel you’re being bullied, make sure you tell a teacher/your parents
Telling somebody you fancy that you have an ostomy can be scary – you may want to save this for when you’re sure that a proper relationship is on the cards. On the other hand, the sooner that you get this out in the open, the sooner you can relax and get to know each other whilst being completely yourself. Either way, it is best to be honest and most people actually aren’t as easily scared off as you might think. If you are over 18 and concerned about intimacy with a partner, you may find some of the information in the following booklet helpful.
Having an ostomy doesn’t mean you suddenly have to start hiding yourself away and wearing only baggy clothes. There’s no reason why you can’t wear tight tops and jeans once your surgery scars have healed. Most swimwear can also hide your ostomy and you can get different styles that may make you feel more comfortable. Patterned or ruched swimsuits may disguise your pouch more. There are lots of teen ostomates who have fashion blogs and Instagram profiles which may provide you with some inspiration.
Meeting other young people who have ostomies can really help you see that you are not alone in needing an ostomy. Consider joining some online groups, many of which have closed social profiles so you can chat securely to others who understand what you’re going through. Make sure you speak to your Stoma Nurse for advice, too – they’ll have loads of experience in helping people with ostomies.
“My Stoma Nurse was wonderful, but all her education was geared towards how to put the pouch on and how do you take it off. Not really how do I live with this, how do I go to school with this”
Download “A guide to Gutsy Living”, which is a resource that was developed specifically for and by young people who have undergone temporary or permanent ostomy surgery. Topics in this document include friends, school, travel, ostomy supplies, clothing, sports and using humour to help in coping.