Shhh… It Happens

by Angie Schickerowski
(from Ostomy Canada Magazine – Winter 2013: Volume 21, Number 2)

The power of kindness. It’s overwhelming how the simple act of a stranger helping you out in an extremely embarrassing and awkward situation can impact your life so greatly. And it almost, emphasis on ‘almost’, makes up for the ignorance and poor attitudes of others who make you feel even more embarrassed and ashamed in those situations. In the four years of having an ostomy, I have had trouble with the clip closure on my ostomy pouch only four times. Make that five now. It doesn’t seem like a huge number, but each of those memories is vividly ingrained in my mind. I think anyone who’s been in one of ‘those’ situations can identify whole heartedly. It was an average day for me as a Mom of two and seven months p regnant with the third. Our daughter was at school, and the little mister and myself were at the pool, taking part in one of those mom and tot swimming lessons. You know… the ones where a group of one and two year olds splash around in the water as the moms all sing “ I Had A Tiny Turtle” in unison for the twenty-seventh time.

Shhh... It Happens Photo 02I love swimming and I especially love spending time in the water with our kids. Being seven months pregnant and starting to feel like a walrus, I also really enjoyed the weightlessness of being in the water. Having an ostomy has never held me back from enjoying time in the pool. Ahhh… Life was good.

The class ended, the kids got their ‘report cards’ and our little guy Lincoln got a high five for passing the ‘Duck’ level of Swim Kids. In the change room, we got our stuff all together and I wrangled the squirmy little dude into a change room so that we could change out of our swimsuits and back into our clothes. As I was pulling my swimsuit bottoms down, and trying to stop the little escape artist from crawling under the door, the clip o f my ostomy pouch got caught on the fabric of my swimsuit, came undone, and WHOOSH, the entire contents of my bag went crashing to the floor, splashing all over the floor, our towels, and my son.

“ NOOOO… ” I cried out, along with a word I’m not proud to have said out loud in front of a bunch of children.

I grabbed Lincoln and pulled him off the ground as he started to try and play in the mess that was all over the floor. My brain started running in circles, trying to think of how to even tackle this mess. I could feel the panic starting to rise up in my throat, and then I hear this from the other side of the change room: “Oh my GOD! Disgusting! Madeline get over here this instant! NO! NOW! We’ll go to the family change room…” Followed by the quick rustle-rustle as another mom and her kid hurry to pull their stuff out of a locker and rush out the door. All of this happened in a matter of seconds, and the tears started pouring down my face. Lincoln was trying to scramble out of my arms, and as shame and embarrassment overcame me, I really was at a loss as to what to do next.

Then I heard another voice. “Excuse me, are you okay? Can I help?”

I was full on sobbing by this time. My emotions tend to run on the more sensitive side of things to begin with: add on the hormones of pregnancy, and you’ll find my picture in the dictionary under the definition of ‘basket case’.

“I don’t know,” I squeaked out. “I… I… I need to give my son a shower… and I… I don’t know. I need to clean up this mess. It’s hard to explain…”

I heard her quietly murmur something to her kids and then she was back at the door to our change room. “Why don’t you pass your little one to me?” she asked, “I can give him a shower.” “No, that’s okay. He’s… Um, he’s covered…” I was really struggling with how to explain this. He’s covered in my poop? Is that really something I want to say out loud? Lincoln is crying by this time. He doesn’t like that I’m crying, but he also REALLY hates the fact that I’m not letting him down. “Listen, it’s okay. Don’t worry. I’ve got three boys. They’ve been covered in all sorts of messes before. Let me take him to the shower quickly if that will help you out at all?” This lady is pretty much a complete stranger. We’ve attended six mom andbaby swim lessons together. We’ve sung the stupid turtle song a hundred times together. But I don’t know her name. We’ve never made small talk. And here she is offering me what feels like the greatest gift of kindness in the world. “Okay…” I sob, and use my swimsuit to clean a little bit off Lincoln before opening the door a crack to pass him through. I hear her chattering away to him as she rinses him off in the shower, and he’s squealing with glee because he’s a little fish. As I use the already dirty towel to clean up some of the mess on the floor and off of my feet, I hear her come back to the locker area with Lincoln and instruct her four year old to share some of his cars with his new friend.

Miraculously, the downpour from my ostomy bag missed me almost entirely. And thankfully didn’t hit our bag with clean clothes in it at all. By this time I was able to finish getting myself dried off and changed back into my clothes. As I opened the door, I saw my Angel In Shining Armour expertly putting a diaper onto my son who was twisting and turning on the change table in an attempt to get back to the little race track of cars that had been set up on the benches. His two new friends were still in their swimsuits and making expert car noises as they raced up and down the ‘track’. “ He seems to be the same size as Aiden,” she smiled at me, “so I just used one of our diapers.” “Thank you so much,” I started to say as tears welled up in my eyes, “ I don’t know…” As my sentence trailed off and the lump rose up again in my throat, she waved her hand in the air emphatically, “It’s seriously nothing,” she told me, “I’ve had strangers help me out before in some pretty sticky situations. Once, I had our van running, as I ran into the post office to get the mail. When I came back out, Lucas here (she points at the older boy) had undone his seatbelt, locked the doors and was in the driver’s seat trying his best to pull the gearshift out of park. It was awful! But the guy in the car next to me, who I’m pretty sure learned his skills in a shady way, was able to get my door unlocked in less than a minute. Thank God! It was one of those ‘I’m the worst mother in the world’ moments for sure.” Her rambling story put me at ease and I was able to smile as Lincoln started driving the car up and down my leg. “Hardly the worst mom in the world,” I told her, “and it is definitely something. Not NOTHING! I am so grateful for your help.”

“I need to get some janitor supplies or something to finish cleaning up in there,” I continued as I lifted Lincoln up to go out and ask a staff member for help. “They already know,” she told me, “they said they can just spray down the floor and pour on some bleach once we’re out of here. There are no lessons for the next hour so no one will be in here.” I have no idea where she found the time to talk to somebody about this. As she wrestles her one son away from the cars to get changed she goes into their locker and comes out with a plastic bag. “Maybe you already have one,” she said, “but in case you don’t, here’s one for whatever laundry you might need to put in there.” “Thank you,” I reply, and am seriously at a loss for words. She waves her hand again in the air, and as she starts getting her little guy changed, and I start putting on Lincoln’s clothes, I try to find the words to explain to her what happened. I feel like I have to.

Shhh... It Happens Photo 01“I have an ostomy bag,” I blurt out, “and it has this silly little plastic clip that keeps it closed. And it normally works just fine, but somehow today, it didn’t work fine,” I’m completely rambling, but I don’t know how else to explain all of this, “and my bathing suit got caught on it and so then the bag opened and everything inside spilled out onto the floor.”

She’s listening intently and looks up momentarily with a puzzled look on her face, “I really hate having to ask this”, she says, “but can you tell me what an ostomy bag is? I’ve heard the word before. I actually think my grandfather had one, but he passed away when I was thirteen. I really don’t know what it is.”

For some reason, I had the impression that this stranger had some sort of idea of what had happened inside that change room. I had a gut feeling like she was a nurse or something, and that’s what made her come to my aid because she had an understanding of what was going on . My heart is bursting with gratitude for this amazingly kind woman.

I have an ostomy ‘schpeel’ at this point of my life, a short and sweet description of having had colitis, going for surgery, what an ostomy is, and how it’s one of the greatest things to have ever happened to me. As I rattle it off to her, she listens carefully, all while dressing her kids, herself, and handing over a snack to all three kids. I feel like I have actually met Super Mom.

“I am so sorry that you’ve gone through all of that,” she says to me when I finish, “but wow, does it sound like you have the right outlook on life! I can’t say that I’d be that grounded if I were in your shoes.” I have a hard time believing that. My Angel In Shining Armour and I make our way out of the change room with our munchkins in tow and say goodbye at the door. Both of the one year olds manage to have meltdowns at the exact same time while we’re putting their boots and coats on , and we never get around to exchanging names or numbers. But as she was heading out the door I called out to her, “Thank you again. Words can’t even begin to express how grateful I am!”

“No worries,” she replies, “Seriously. Shit happens.” And the two of us laugh together over the whines and cries of the toddlers, as we go our separate ways. Her gift of kindness and good will, will forever be engrained in my memory. The shame and embarrassment I felt from the attitude and actions of the other mom in the change room will be hard to forget, but the pain is definitely much easier to swallow when I reflect on the amazing woman who went out of her way to help me out.

Angie is the 20/40-committee leader for both UOAC and Calgary Ostomy Society and the webmaster for COS and NCACOA.

“Shhh…It Happens” first appeared in the Winter 2013 edition of Ostomy Canada. You can become a subscriber to our glossy, full-colour publication of Ostomy Canada by joining Ostomy Canada Society. Find out more here.

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Health Mentors

by Ed Tummers and Naomi Mensink
(from Ostomy Canada Magazine – Winter 2013: Volume 21, Number 2)

My name is Ed Tummers. I had my ileostomy surgery in 1989. Before that, I suffered for 10 years with ulcerative colitis. Today, I am helping the medical community as a Health Mentor. As a reader of Ostomy Canada, you are probably already aware of the life-saving benefits of having had ostomy surgery. You are probably also well aware of the challenges in helping our healthcare professionals better understand how ostomy surgery has radically improved your quality of life. Here in Halifax, through the Dalhousie University Health Mentors Program, we are fortunate to be able to share our stories with Dalhousie University students in 32 healthcare fields of study. There are about 750 students involved and about 150 Health Mentors from the community.

How did we get involved? And what are “Health Mentors”? “Health Mentors” are members of the community who have a chronic condition, and are willing to share their stories of how their condition impacts on their lives, and how their interaction with the health care system has affected their journey. Ostomy Halifax got involved right from the beginning for several reasons. We have a good working relationship with the Faculty of Medicine and we have a large group of willing volunteers who are keen to share their story with the students. And of course, we are always looking for ways to increase awareness throughout the community. What better way than meeting eager students near the start of their professional studies?

This approach to the education of health professional students has at its core a very simple concept: patients are people first, and we are experts about ourselves. These students are learning from the beginning that it is important to keep us centrally involved in decisions about our own healthcare and the management of any health conditions we may experience. The Health Mentors Program supports this concept by having inter-professional teams of students meet directly with individuals with chronic conditions and/or disabilities to hear firsthand about personal journeys through the healthcare system.

How does it work? Each student team is made up of four to six students from a variety of health professions. Last year, my group of four students were studying medicine, physiotherapy, nursing and social work. The Student Team visited me three times during the school year. Based on the information students gather during the visits, they compile and submit a team assignment entitled “Our Health Mentor’s Story.” This is an overall picture of your life that may include events such as where you were born, your family life, schooling and employment. The story may also capture your values, interests, accomplishments, disappointments and hopes for the future. The Health Mentor may share information regarding the onset of your condition, the process of diagnosis, encounters with health and social services, visits to healthcare professionals, treatment plans and community supports. Essentially, your story can include any event related to the management of your condition. In the case of our chapter members, we can show the students the benefits of living with an ostomy.

At the first session, we get to know each other as people. The students do not know what condition the Health Mentor might have. In this way, there is no prejudice or stereotyping and the students can get to know you as a person first. Gradually, they learn more about what it is like living with an ostomy. I like to give them each an ostomy appliance so that they can experience for themselves what it is like to wear one for a week. My wife, Sandra, has also mentored to explain to students the impact of the chronic condition on the whole family.

At the second session, the students will explore the details of your condition and the impact that it has had on your personal life, your family and friends, and your work. They will ask about your experiences with the healthcare system and any examples of inter-professional collaboration you may have experienced. They then have all the material necessary to create your story, which they present at the final session.

The Health Mentors Program is now in its fourth year here in Halifax. The program also has student teams meeting with Health Mentors in Saint John, NB, and in Yarmouth NS. The students find the interaction with ‘real people’ is one of the highlights of their early studies. And the Health Mentors find that sharing their experience with the students to be most rewarding. Dalhousie University is building a $40 million Collaborative Health Education building in Halifax, scheduled to open in 2015, which will be home to about 3000 students and faculty from a variety of different health professions. This will help ensure that every student will be part of the teamwork model for health care delivery.

If your chapter is located near a School of Medicine, it might be worth checking to see if they have a similar program. Or help them get one started.

Naomi Mensink is the Director of the Dalhousie University Health Mentors Program. Ed Tummers is the President of Ostomy Halifax.  

“Health Mentors” first appeared in the Winter 2013 edition of Ostomy Canada. You can become a subscriber to our glossy, full-colour publication of Ostomy Canada by joining Ostomy Canada Society. Find out more here.

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A Helping Hand

by Col. Justin Blum
(from Ostomy Canada Magazine – Winter 2013: Volume 21, Number 2)

LTC(R) Justin F. Blum, Great Comebacks 2011 Tony Snow Winner for Public Service, has dedicated his entire life to helping others. The words “I can’t” are just not part of his vocabulary. When Justin retired from the Army at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, received a permanent ostomy at the age of 40 following a 21-year battle with ulcerative colitis and a diagnosis of the initial stage of colon cancer, there was no doubt in his mind that he would be able to return to a full and meaningful life. The date was 28 February 1993. Just 10 years prior, his father Norman, passed away at the age of 61 from colon cancer that spread to his liver. Justin realized that he now had the good fortune and opportunity for a second chance at life because if his surgery was three weeks later, his wife Leah might have become a widow at the age of 34 with three young children. At the time of the writing of this article, Justin is currently 60 years old and really appreciates life to the point that he takes nothing for granted.

COL Blum recognizes that the continual emotional and physical support from his wife Leah of 29 years, as well as the lessons he learned from the Army, gave him the drive, resilience and strength to tackle the mental and physical challenges associated with having an ostomy. In fact, approximately three months after his surgery, Justin was on his way to making Army height and weight standards and passing the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) by walking nine miles a day. This effort enabled him to stay on active duty to continue serving his country.

“I have never given up on anything,” says COL Blum. “The best advice I have given to the people I work with is that they are in a position to accomplish anything. They can set an example for all to emulate by making a difference in the lives of others who do not yet share their drive.”

Though Justin is no longer serving on active duty with the military, he has been in uniform for more than 40 years and, for the past 17 years, continues to serve as the Senior Army Instructor of the Marlboro County High School Army Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) Program in Bennettsville, SC, works with at-risk youth in the areas of pregnancy prevention and dropout prevention, instructs JROTC at the South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy, and works with children in his school’s special education program. Through these roles, he is able to discuss his experiences as an ostomate and encourage atrisk youth to remain strong through difficult challenges by never giving up in life.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Justin is also a member of the South Carolina State Department of Education Character Development Partnership and State Schools of Character Board, a member of the South Carolina School Improvement council, serves in the South Carolina State Guard with the rank of Colonel, and serves as a board member of the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault.

Justin has been repeatedly recognized for his service to others. In 2010, he was a recipient of the South Carolina State Board of Education Volunteer Award. In 2003 and 2011, he was named the National Army Senior JROTC Instructor of the Year. Out of 5,000 United States Army Cadet Command JROTC instructors world wide, Justin is most proud of the fact that he is the only one living with an ostomy and has still been named national instructor of the year twice. He also has written/received five national character education Promising Practice awards from the Washington, DC-based Character Education Partnership as the result of projects with his JROTC cadets.

Justin, now 60, lives in Florence, SC with Leah and their three children: Ryan, Adam and Julianna. He continues to use passion for helping others by grant writing to support his many volunteer projects, performing public relations duties for the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault towards Women, and plans and conducts five blood drives per year with the American Red Cross.

In February of 2012, Justin saw postings on Facebook regarding specialized ventriloquist puppets, fitted with ostomies called Gastronauts. The Gastronauts are created by Liz and Phil Prosser of www. from the UK. As a 100% classified permanent and total disabled veteran, Justin immediately thought of the concept of having wounded warrior Gastronauts which would assist both the veteran with an ostomy, and his or her family, in the veteran’s transition from life as an ostomate. What is not widely known is that many of the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who have lost one or two of their legs, have also become ostomates. Justin is the driving force behind the design, development, and bios of the two wounded warrior Gastronauts: Top Sergeants B.J. Stoma and William V.B. Stoma. He has dedicated his free time to the promotion of the Gastronauts working to assist Liz and Phil Prosser of www. in enabling children around the world with ostomies,to be able to receive a Gastronaut free of charge, (including shipping charges), so they will have a new best friend for life. Please note that in most countries, the puppets are subsidized through the country’s ostomy associations. In countries where no subsidy is available then the gastronauts are currently funded by Phil and Liz through royalties and writing fees etc. No parent or child is ever asked to pay for a puppet.

Finally, when his Army JROTC students returned to Marlboro County High School last August 21st, for the start of School year 2012 – 2013, they noticed an upside triangle on his office window. For JROTC cadets, they will see the upside triangle as the symbol for ‘land mines’ as they have learned in map reading classes. However, for the members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi, transgender) community at the high school, they will know they are in an area where support, understanding, and a feeling of being safe and content can be found.

LTC(R) Justin F. Blum can be reached via e-mail: He is always ready to reach out to assist others, who as he says, “just need a little helping hand”.

“A Helping Hand” first appeared in the Winter 2013 edition of Ostomy Canada. You can become a subscriber to our glossy, full-colour publication of Ostomy Canada by joining Ostomy Canada Society. Find out more here.

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The Devil You Know…

by Heather Orsted RN, BN, ET, MSc
(from Ostomy Canada Magazine – Winter 2013: Volume 21, Number 2)

As a person with a urostomy for over 50 years (holy cow), I have been a child, a young woman, wife, mother and now a grandmother with an ostomy. I have also been a student and a teacher, a nurse and an ET and everything in-between! Over the years many of my experiences of living with an ostomy have been challenging while providing continual learning and personal growth.

Moving forward in spite of life’s challenges is what supports growth. We encounter many of the same challenges as others, but as persons with ostomies we have some that are unique to our situation such as leakage and odor relating to stool and/or urine drainage, peri-stomal skin breakdown, as well as changes to our self-and body-image. These unique challenges create not only physical but social and psychological challenges that can add great stress to our life.

As one often does, in times of challenging situations, I have often remained stuck in a negative situation rather than try something new, fearing it could make the situation even worse. The result is I have often, unnecessarily, lived with a problem (the devil I knew)!

First Example:
I have had an ostomy since the age of six (1959-1960) and have had a variety of appliances over the years. Growing up in rural Manitoba I never discovered an appliance that would actually stick to my skin till I moved to BC in 1968 when I was 15. This new appliance had an adhesive backing which allowed me to drop the application of a nasty skin bond glue I had used for years, but there was still no protective skin barrier. Almost twenty years later when I became an ET and saw, recommended, and used modern appliances with protective skin barrier wafers on all my patients I still used that same appliance (the devil I knew). It was not until my appliance leaked at work and I did not have a spare that I looked into my ET cupboard and tried a two piece appliance with a barrier wafer that I had been recommending to my patients. Wow – what a difference! Later that day I went into my pharmacy to obtain and switch to the new appliance; they all laughed saying they had a bet on how long it would take me to change. CHANGE IS DIFFICULT!

Second Example:
My early appliances did not connect to night drainage and as a result I had never used one. Once I became an ET and recognized the importance of the drainage system I made sure all my urostomy patients used them at night. However since I had never used them I continued with my life-long habit of getting up at night and emptying my appliance (the devil I knew). What I did not realize is that as time went on and I aged I was causing undue reflux into my ureters and kidneys. After years of chronic flank pain and recurrent kidney infections I realized the devil I knew was causing significant damage to my left kidney. I had surgery to open a closed uteter and began using night drainage. The flank pain disappeared, I actually slept better… and most importantly I have not required oral antibiotics since. CHANGE IS DIFFICULT.

Third Example:
I had a terrible itchy peri-stomal rash for several years relating to both the tape and wafer on my appliance (the devil I knew) however I was still able to get a great seal…. meaning no leakage. When I looked at changing to another appliance that would be less irritating to my skin they either were too short or had a drainage system that I did not like… there was always something. I finally found one that I thought could work and what did I do…. I let it sit in my cupboard for almost a year. Finally I tried it and the rash started to clear… but it leaked after one day! I tried it again and the rash got better but it leaked after two days. I tried it again and the rash was gone but it still leaked. OK, now I was real happy to see the rash disappear so I continued to HOPE it would work and finally it held three days with no leakage. Now I am using this appliance; no rash, no leakage and I get four to five days wear time. CHANGE IS DIFFICULT!

Supporting Change
Remember by changing nothing… nothing changes (T. Robbins). For example if you do your hair the same way everyday don’t expect it to look different when you look in the mirror. It can be scary but I have learned that we need to confront what is not working (the devil we know) and try to make change happen. Be aware that the change process is not always smooth and outcomes need to be evaluated to determine if the change that is occurring is really what we had planned. If we follow a process that supports strategies for change it will enable us to reach the positive change we want to achieve.

Action Process for Change

  1. Describe and appreciate the full scope of problem you are having (for example a peri-stomal skin rash)
  2. Think about what will happen if you do not take any action (for example peri-stomal skin rash persists or gets worse or may even lead to an infection)
  3. Identify what the change is and what the outcome needs to be (for example peri- stomal skin rash resolves and does not reappear)
  4. Explore some options that will lead to positive change
    a) Review your current practice or care strategies (for example are you using care products that are irritants?)
    b) Explore new appliances and products (for example are you using an appliance that is the irritant?)
    c) Visit your healthcare professional (for example visit an ET for solutions to the problem)
  5. Select an option for change that minimizes your risk (for example it may be the easiest, the cheapest or the one closest to your previous practice or care)
  6. Act on the selected option for change (for example trial a new appliance)
  7. Identify a time to evaluate your action to determine if the change has corrected the problem (for example reassess the rash next appliance change to determine if the rash is resolving)
  8. Decide if the change was effective to manage the problem (for example did the new appliance support healthy skin)
  9. Adopt the change into your everyday practice or care (for example order the appliance that supported the resolution of the rash)
  10. Continue to be vigilant for the opportunity for change and re-initiate the process for change (watch for any other problems that need to be addressed by the change process)

So my recommendation to you, my fellow ostomates, is don’t be complacent with your problems (the devil you know). Enhance your wellness and TAKE CHARGE by using a systemic PROCESS TO SUPPORT CHANGE.

Heather is a member of the Calgary Ostomy Society.

“The Devil You Know…” first appeared in the Winter 2013 edition of Ostomy Canada. You can become a subscriber to our glossy, full-colour publication of Ostomy Canada by joining Ostomy Canada Society. Find out more here.

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What to Eat with IBD

by Rory Hornstein
(from Ostomy Canada Magazine – Winter 2013: Volume 21, Number 2)

What to Eat with IBD Photo 01Now that you have an ostomy, you may be able to eat a larger variety of foods than you did before the surgery. Once you’ve recovered from surgery, it’s recommended that you eat a variety of foods. These guidelines will help you manage your diet while you recover from surgery. They will also provide suggestions for managing symptoms such as gas and odour as you continue to live with your ostomy.

Anti-Inflammatory food may alter pro-inflammatory food constituents by decreasing antigens and microparticles through exclusion diets. Bacterial load may be reduced in the small intestine through elemental diets and prebiotics/probiotics can alter the balance of microbiota. Specifically, small molecule production in the colon may be altered and cell structure changed. Lipids (n-3 LCFAs) – fish/fish oil play a role as well.

Symptomatic food can include obstructing food (in small intestinal stenosis) through skins, fibre, nuts, seeds and fatty food (in fat malabsorption). Functional gut ‘trigger’ foods include poorly absorbed short-chain CHO (FODMAPs), chemicals (amines, glutamates, salicylates) and allergens.

Many patients struggling with an ostomy feel that they are told to, ‘eat what you can’. Most consider dietary factors important in controlling symptoms/aiding recovery. A systemic, organized approach is warranted as the value of a food should be determined in the context of the total diet.

Diets such as FODMAP identify mal- absorption of Fructose, Lactose, Oligosac- charides, Polyols (FODMAPs) that may contribute to symptoms of pain, bloating and wind. The principle focuses on the reduction of FODMAP intake, which may improve abdominal symptoms in patients with IBD and functional gut symptoms. This can be effective for those with an ostomy as well.

No food is all ‘bad’ or all ‘good’. Dietary change should be in the context of the whole diet, clinical scenario, and specific issue that needs to be addressed. Dietitians should be an integral part of the patient’s management team. Effectiveness of dietary counselling in controlling symptoms is no longer in doubt (low FODMAP diet). Food choice will hopefully also emerge as an efficacious and
practical tool to reduce inflammation, and to prevent issues from developing from disease.

Once you have recovered from surgery, no special diet is required. Continue trying a variety of foods to see which are best tolerated. Adequate fluid intake is important to replace fluids lost in the output. Follow a low fiber diet to prevent blockages. You may become lactose intolerant for a short time after surgery. Re-introduce higher fibre foods slowly. Do not restrict your fluids to control high output. This could lead to dehydration or worsen existing dehydration. If your output is greater than 1L/day, you may need a special drink to help reduce your fluids. Speak to your GI Specialist about this.

Become aware of your own illness… what aids your recovery process and what hinders it. Nutrition can empower your body and mind to be strong. Diet can enable you to control at least one aspect of your disease, re-nourishing your body and allowing your intestines to heal. Embrace all modalities toward healing and care for yourself physically and emotionally. Seek support and reduce stress – be strong and determined. Diet and nutrition is an integral part of the healing process…food is medicine. The course of your disease can be changed by how you manage your life and what you eat.

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Rory Hornstein, RD / Specialty in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and IBS /

“What to Eat with IBD” first appeared in the Winter 2013 edition of Ostomy Canada. You can become a subscriber to our glossy, full-colour publication of Ostomy Canada by joining Ostomy Canada Society. Find out more here.

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