Returning to your daily routine

How to approach going back to work or school after you’ve had ostomy surgery.

It may seem overwhelming to get back to performing daily routines, hobbies and activities you used to do. You may feel very tired in the beginning, so start out slowly.

Going back to work

Whether your condition allows you to return to work or not very much depends on the operation you have had and your doctor's advice. If you do plan on returning to work, it is important to discuss your options with your employer as soon as possible. Some may be able to offer you to work reduced hours for an initial period as your body is still adjusting.

Going back to your studies

The same advice goes if your condition allows you to return to your studies. Talk to your student counsellor about starting out slowly by only following a few subjects, until you know what you are capable of.

Do a ‘trial run’

A few weeks before you return to work or your studies, it may be helpful to dress and plan your day as if you were going to work or school, sort of a 'trial run' to establish a routine. Consider your meals and how many times you need to change or empty your bag – and plan your day accordingly.

Who should I tell?

When you go back to work or school, it is entirely up to you how much you choose to share with the people you interact with.

However, it's a good idea to let at least one person know. If you have a medical emergency at some point, it will be much easier if someone already knows about your ostomy surgery.

How to explain your procedure

It is only natural to have concerns about having to explain yourself to new people. Just do what makes you feel most comfortable. Sometimes, preparing a short and confident explanation will help put your mind at ease.

For instance, you could simply explain briefly that you went through a serious illness, and because of that you had major surgery and now wear an ostomy bag. Avoid being too technical, and be open to questions - without over-sharing. Never feel you have to explain details of your surgery to everyone who asks.

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