Back To Work With An Ostomy: Tips And Advice

Posted by MeetAnOstoMate

Finding a Job with an Ostomy

Navigating the job market with an ostomy can present unique challenges, but there are practical steps that can help make the process smoother. One effective approach is to explore work-from-home opportunities. Professions such as writing, customer service, medical typing, coding, and insurance can often be done remotely. It's essential to have a reliable internet connection and a suitable workspace at home. However, it's important to remain cautious of potential scammers when exploring these opportunities online.

Another option is to seek flexible part-time work. These roles are typically less stressful and offer more manageable hours. Visiting local job service and rehab centers can be beneficial for finding job retraining options that suit your needs. These centers often provide resources and support for individuals looking to transition into less demanding roles or new career paths.

For those looking to expand their opportunities, job retraining and skill upgrading are worth considering. This could involve taking courses to learn new skills or even starting your own business, which allows for more control over work hours. Being transparent with future employers about your limitations and skills is crucial to avoid any surprises and to ensure a good fit for both parties.

Returning to Work

Returning to work after an ostomy surgery can be daunting, but a gradual return can ease the transition. Starting with half days or a few days a week can help you slowly get back into the routine. Utilizing any scheduled leave to focus on healing and adapting to your new circumstances before reassessing your readiness to return to work is a practical approach.

Preparation is key when returning to work. Carrying a spare bag, change of clothes, pouch powder, and wipes can help you manage any emergencies that arise. Keeping a bathroom kit with essentials like an empty water bottle, deodorant drops, water wipes, and personal toilet paper ensures you are always prepared.

Dietary management is also important. Planning your meals carefully can help manage digestion during working hours. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can reduce output and avoid foods that cause gas or loose stools.

Maintaining Employment

Once back at work, managing output and leaks becomes a daily routine. Being proactive in emptying your bag can prevent leaks and odors. Products like ostomy deodorant drops can help manage any odor concerns. For those with colostomies, irrigation can be a useful method to reduce the need for frequent bathroom breaks.

Protecting the stoma is crucial, especially during physical activities. Using support belts or hernia belts can provide additional support. It's important to be cautious about potential hernias and avoid lifting heavy items or straining the abdominal wall.

Workplace dynamics can be challenging, but normalizing the situation can make it easier. Informing colleagues about your condition can help create a supportive environment. It's also important to stand up for yourself if faced with derogatory comments or actions in the workplace.

Discussing an Ostomy with Your Employer

Discussing an ostomy with your employer can be sensitive but necessary for securing the accommodations you need. Informing HR or your boss ensures that you have access to necessary bathroom accommodations and can prevent misunderstandings. Registering as having a disability can also help in getting necessary accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Understanding the legal and practical considerations is important. Under the ADA, you can request reasonable accommodations, but this requires informing your employer. While it is not legally required to disclose a disability, doing so can prevent misunderstandings and ensure you receive the support you need.

Timing of disclosure can vary. Some suggest disclosing the ostomy during the job application process if it impacts job performance or requires accommodation. Others recommend waiting until you are settled in the job, especially if the ostomy does not affect your ability to perform your duties.

Additional Tips

Emotional and psychological support is crucial. Engaging with online communities and forums can provide valuable support and advice. If anxiety and depression persist, seeking professional help is important.

Joining local or online support groups (like can also be beneficial. These groups offer valuable help and advice from people who understand the challenges of living with an ostomy.

Maintaining a positive mindset is essential. Focus on the direction you want to go in life, and embrace humor. Finding ways to laugh at yourself and the challenges you face can make the journey a bit easier.

Living with Your Ostomy | Hollister