While numerous treatment options are available to treat patients diagnosed with colon cancer, some options are only available when the cancer are in an early developmental stage. When the cancer has progressed through the colon, a colostomy may be the only option to prevent the cancer from spreading to surrounding lymph nodes and other parts of the body. The UK Colostomy Association reports that more than 65,000 people within the United Kingdom have undergone a colostomy procedure. The go on to explain that a colostomy is a procedure where the surgeon bypasses or removes a part of the large bowel, then create an alternative passage for bowels to move through.
The Reasons For a Colostomy
A colostomy procedure is often associated with cancer of the colon and rectum. While this seems to be one of the most obvious reasons for patients to have a colostomy performed on them, many other conditions can also lead to problems in the colon – which sometimes need to be treated through a colostomy. It is also important to realize that a colostomy may be either temporary or permanent.
After going through invasive surgery, a colostomy may be performed on a patient in order to give the colon time to heal, where after the procedure is reversed. In more severe cases, the colostomy procedure may be the only way to ensure the person can continue living, thus resulting in a permanent procedure that will not be reversed after the colon has recovered from surgery.
Heal Dove reports that reasons other than cancer for a colostomy may include:
- Chron’s disease
- Bowel incontinence
- Bowel obstruction
- Injury and trauma to the bowels
In rare cases, an emergency operation may also be performed to alter the pathway of bowel movements should a medical case call for it.
After a colostomy has been performed, you should be prepared to stay in the hospital for up to seven additional days. Health Line reports that the hospital staff will provide useful instructions during this time in order to educate you on how the colostomy bag works, what foods you may and may not consume, how much physical activity you should partake in and also how to replace your colostomy bag. During the first few days after the procedure, you will also be slowly introduced to foods – starting with liquids and eventually soft foods. Once you are discharged from the hospital, you will also need to visit the doctor frequently during the first few weeks in order to make sure everything is working correctly and that no digestive problems occur.
Once you have undergone a colostomy procedure, you will most likely have to make a few adjustments in your diet. This is essential due to waste now being transferred to a stoma bag instead of being discarded through the anus.
GI Care reports that many of the food choices you enjoyed before the procedure can still be enjoyed afterwards, but they do explain that certain food choices should be avoided in order to prevent digestive problems. They report that food such as pasta, breads and cheeses may thicken stool, thus making it more difficult for feces to be transferred to the stoma bag. They also report that foods such as eggs, garlic, asparagus, fish and onion may produce an unpleasant odor; while foods such as yogurt, cranberry juice, parsley and yogurt may reduce odor.
Salts Healthcare reports that you should have a healthy physical lifestyle following the procedure. They do recommend taking things slow for the first three months, but explain that physical activities should slowly be introduced into your lifestyle.
Furthermore, they report that the following advice should be considered following the procedure:
- No heavy lifting should be performed within the first 12 weeks after the procedure.
- Increase physical activity gradually – do not get back into action all-at-once.
- Abdominal exercise is vital in order to strengthen the weakened abdominal muscles. If these muscles are not strengthened, a hernia may develop.
- If exercising hurts in the area where the procedure was performed, you should stop and take a rest.
- Walking is a great way to get back into shape and to withhold an active lifestyle without overdoing it. They recommend trying to walk for around 30 minutes per day when you’ve regained your strength.
- In the case of active sports, it is advised to speak to your healthcare provider as a stoma protector may be required.
Yes, a stoma bag is required after a colostomy has been performed and this can often make a patient feel self-conscious. Fortunately, having to live with a stoma bag does not mean you cannot partake in a regular, normal lifestyle. While the first few weeks may be hard on you, things do tend to get better as long as you follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider. It is also important to follow a safe diet and to conduct in regular physical exercises in order to sustain a healthy lifestyle, while also ensuring your colostomy does not cause any problems.