If you have undergone an Ostomy surgery there is a good chance someone may have mentioned that there is an Ostomy support group in your area that could be beneficial to you. Whether you are managing it just fine, or if you feel you are struggling with your new Ostomy, a support group might just be the perfect place for you. Ostomy support groups are for people who have had or are waiting for Ostomy surgery as well as their support person (family, friends, partners or caregivers). An Ostomy support group provides a safe space where you can learn to better understand your Ostomy, express your feelings; good or bad, reduce stress and develop new coping strategies in a supportive environment, which can greatly improve emotional and physical recovery.
Although, attending a support group can be a frightening idea to many people because there is still such a stigma around reaching out for help when you are struggling. However, it is important to remember there are many benefits to speaking with other people who are on a similar journey as you. Your doctor may be able to help you with your physical health but emotional support may not be something they are able to provide for you. Family and friends are a wonderful source of support as well but they may not understand the new challenges you are enduring with your current situation.
Education is a large part of the structure of an Ostomy support group meeting. At times, there will be speakers (product representatives or nurses that specialize in Ostomy care) that come in to present on topics related to your Ostomy and the products available to you. Some speakers such as dietitians and mental health professionals may come in and speak on general interest health topics. If you have questions related to your Ostomy, having someone who is educated on the topic to answer them is a large advantage. Many times if you have a question, you can be sure that someone in the group has already had the same or similar situation and are happy to offer up advice and support. Some attendees of these groups have had their Ostomy for 20+ years while others may be new to their Ostomy like you.
There are a number of people that thrive after their Ostomy surgery and their presence at these meetings is important too. If you are one of these people, your story could be incredibly encouraging to someone that has recently undergone surgery. The confidence and contentment that you have found with your Ostomy could help someone that is struggling or just needing to talk to others like themselves so that they can find their way too.
Regardless of where you are in your Ostomy journey, know that there is a seat waiting for you at your local Ostomy support group and they are happy to welcome you when you are ready.