Struggling to Adjust After Surgery - Seeking Coping Strategies

Jun 06, 2017 12:31 am

Hello everyone,

Well, I am back to work and trying to readjust to life after being out of commission for 10 months.... and I don't think I am adjusting well. Yes, everyone is thrilled to have me back at work (including my bank account). And it's nice to get back into a routine again.... but it's not my old routine.

- I'm in and out of the bathroom at work at least once an hour due to the huge amounts of water I suck down.

- I feel as if EVERYONE can see the outline of my bag, when I know in reality no one has any idea.

- Work clothes? WORK CLOTHES?! I have a hard enough time trying to figure out if I should just let my bag hang out or stick it in my underwear. And if I do that, will all of my urine back up and cause a leak? Hi-rise pants are just not high enough for me anymore, and I can't wear my cute summer dresses because New England weather is taking a page from Old England weather.

- I recently realized I am rather cranky lately - just hateful towards everything although my outer persona remains a steadfast smiley face. Talked with my roommate about this, and he said I really went through a traumatic 10 months, and it is normal to be cranky and angry. He's been quietly waiting for me to realize it on my own, and I am so thankful he talked with me as I cried and said "I don't like myself anymore". My Mom and another close friend also were seeing the cracks, and have been so supportive and understanding. Appt with my therapist is next week, but I may be moving that up a bit in light of my situation.

So, part of me wants to just curl up and hide, but I know I can't do that. At least I am aware of these emotions bounding around - and I need to allow myself to really FEEL. I'm sure others have gone through this (and more!) and I just want some thoughts on how you managed and coped. In advance, thank you!!

MMM - Urostomy 3/6/17

Jun 06, 2017 2:19 am

Hey MMM, you've got some good stuff going on for you.  First, you recognize you're not yourself and you want that to change.  You have some caring, loving folks around you starting with your roommate.  You have a therapist and that's got to be good for you.  

You'll be just fine because you want to be and you've got lots of the right pieces in place.

Keep us posted and share the good news with us.



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Jun 06, 2017 5:23 am

Hello MassMikMouse.

Thank you for sharing your predicament with us as I am sure an open discussion about this will help many people who are in that early phase of recovery.

It is as Mike says, you are fortunate to have supportive friends who seem to understand that emotions are often adversely affected by this sort of trauma. A therapist can be invaluable to help you talk through your feelings, get them in order and help you to manage them more effectively but remember to give yourself time to adjust. Emotional and psychological traumas do have a healing process of their own and, just like their physical counterparts, they do take time to heal or to adjust to so that they are manageable. 

I agree with Mike, in that you sound as if you are on the right road to recovery and will no doubt look back on this period one day and realise that it was all quite a 'normal' process.

Best wishes


Jun 07, 2017 2:41 am

Hi MMM, I just saw your post. Welcome to came to the right place to talk. Everyone here is so helpful and encouraging. Like you, I also stumbled upon this site when I was very sick. I read everyone's posts and absorbed their information. I felt like I belonged again. Feeling like you are falling apart, in my opinion and I am not a doctor, is normal after life-changing, life-altering surgery. Our plumbing has changed from where we started and will not go back to the old way in some cases. It can never be reversed. I never had bowel issues prior to 2011/2012. I thought my upset stomach and bathroom runs were because of stress. Stressful job, working on my MBA, crazy schedule, crazy extended family members and so on. Then the blood in the toilet began. It was the beginning of the end. I was ill and dying. It has been 4 1/2 years for me and some days I just melt down. I vent, get pissed off, I scream and work through it sometimes quickly, sometimes very slowly. Clothes can be problematic. I know with me, it takes longer to shop for something than it did prior to surgery. I can't have something pressing on my stoma or it could cause issues. I know other people who say it does not matter to them and tight clothing does not cause issues. These first several months post-op is trial and error time. Be gentle on yourself and give yourself time to heal physically and emotionally. Our types of surgery are significant. We need to heal our bodies and figure out a way to fit this new normal into our lives. I wish I could have the old normal, the old healthy normal back but not for today. Medicine needs to advance much further in order for me to grow a new healthy colon. This is a new beginning and hopefully a healthier one for everyone who receives a stoma. I named my stoma Stanley. It made me feel better. Take care and best wishes. Keep posting your questions. Everyone here has lots of great information to share. This site keeps us strong and connected. Sincerely, LadyHope

ron in mich
Jun 07, 2017 3:13 pm

Hi, mmm. The fact that you know you have issues and want to correct them is a positive, and you have good support around you, which is good. But it's hard to get back into working and be your old self groove mentally and physically. When I went back to work, it took me about 6 months as I was in shipping and receiving for a retailer, and the job was physically challenging. I would get home after work and take a nap. Hang in there, it will get better.

Stories of Living Life to the Fullest from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Jun 10, 2017 2:30 am

It would be nice if we could just forget the old self and find a way to embrace the new self, but it doesn't come easy. You will get there, like everyone has takes time and there is no set time until it happens. Some days are better than others and the rest fall in between.

I hear you about the work clothes, we have a "dress code" and every other month it seems I'm changing sizes, ugh!!! The pants I love and fit nice in are not always available as the seasons change so I have to try stuff on and they usually fit at first but don't seem so comfortable throughout their wear time. I have a long torso and rarely do I find a shirt or blouse that is long enough in length as well as arm length. Boy, would I love a makeover with tips on where to find the clothes that fit just right!

Hang in there MMM, some days are better than others :).

Jun 13, 2017 11:15 am

50 years ago this month my pouch and I became good friends, joined at the hip so to speak.

I was in the same place you are now... and I survived. I'll admit it took longer than it should have for me to get the "I don't care" attitude, but I got it and so will you.

Jun 15, 2017 5:38 am

MMM--No wonder they were all so happy to see you back at work! You are amazing.

Undies? Any chance for thong undies? They work around everything... even my radiation techs are OK with me leaving those on... And I have a colostomy but can still flip it in and out of my thong undies if it gets too full.

Get some fun in buying skirts!

I like the foldover waist skirts. Very flexible. But my recent purchase was an elasticated waist (kind of Peruvian design fabric) which would have cut my bag in half, pressure-wise, except I paired it with a drapy top that hid how far I really pulled up that waistline to hide my bag once it filled...

I wish I could help better with the emotional side. Best I can do is one teeny step with skirt advice to help you get through all this.

BUT the rest of me is 1000% here for you too. I don't have "get better" words, I just have me. With panty and skirt advice. And if we could be in the same room for just one minute, we'd be hugging and "laughing our pants off," we'd be tearing up...