Living Life Fully with Your Ostomy – Part 5: Serviceable Information
In my last post, I shared a list of items that have become essential, must-haves when it comes to my own ostomy care supplies, regardless of whether I’m doing daily life at home or traveling to another location on business or vacation.
Today, I want to encourage you to improve your knowledge of ostomy issues and expand your network of people who can both support and help you to live life more fully. One of the best ways I have found to do this is to attend an ostomy-themed conference. With more and more people living with ostomies, these conferences are becoming more common, and they are a great place to network with professionals, fellow “ostomates”, and to become more aware of what’s out there in terms of the latest products and information.
Several years ago, I attended a conference sponsored by the Ostomy Care and Supply Centre, and came away feeling encouraged and enlightened. The speakers were informative and inspiring, and on a more practical level, several ET nurses and other professionals were available to answer any questions from attendees.
Ostomy Products and Accessories
And of course, there were suppliers there showing off their most popular products as well as the latest developments in ostomy care. One product that made it onto my “nice to have” list is the absorbent gel packet, made by Cymed Ile-sorb.
These little numbers (they look similar to the gel-packs/pods that people are putting in their dishwashers lately) work great whenever your stoma is producing a lot of liquid, or diarrhea. If you’ve been sick, or have been eating things with a lot of liquid, i.e. blended soups, the contents of your ostomy bag will probably be a lot messier than usual. The solution – pop one of these packets into your bag, and it will dissolve, turning the contents into a gel and making it much easier to empty your bag when the time comes.
Ostomy Organizations and Support Groups
Other than exposure to practical products, the conference also proved to be a valuable place to connect with non-profit organizations such as the Ostomy Canada Society www.ostomycanada.ca/.
The OCS offers a lot of practical helps and services – it can connect you to an ostomy support group, help you find an ET nurse (I mentioned the importance of this in Part 2 of this series), and provide access to an online community.
They also provide access to a valuable library of ostomy info, and raise public awareness by hosting events such as the Stoma Stroll Awareness Walk; the 4th Annual Walk is happening on October 1, 2016. (NOTE: for the American equivalent of the OSC, check out the United Ostomy Associations of America website at www.ostomy.org).
You Are Not Alone
Lastly, I want to share my own most significant takeaway from attending this conference: you and I are not alone in living with ostomies. Not only is there an army of professionals out there willing and able to help us live better lives, there are lots of other ostomates who we can learn from and lean on as sources of insight and support.
So get out and connect with your fellow “travellers”, and your quality of life will improve as a result. You might just make some lifelong friends in the process!