19 June, 2019
Isolated is a word that comes up time and time again when talking with ostomates about their journey. This Loneliness Awareness Week we wanted to discuss what is it about stoma surgery that makes people feel so alone and what we as a charity can offer to help.
Who does loneliness affect?
Loneliness is often thought of as something that affects people who live on their own and in particular the older generation, but this is not true. People of all ages, and in any location can become lonely and indeed it’s something that can affect you even if you are living in a full and busy house. Feeling lonely doesn’t mean being alone. A YouGov study found that a massive 25% of adults have reported feeling lonely on weekends, with evenings being the prime time that people reported feeling alone.
Loneliness Post Surgery
Often it is only after a number of weeks, after someone has returned home from hospital that the true impact of surgery hits. Many people have absolutely no idea what a stoma is before they have surgery and most likely don’t know anyone in their life who has one or understands what they are going through. Even where someone is surrounded by friends, family and a partner, often people feel guilty for the disruption that their illness has had on others and don’t want people to pity them, preferring to put on a brave face even where they may be struggling.
The anxiety of public life
Where few people understand what stoma surgery is, fewer still appreciate the psychological impact it can have. Imagine carrying your poo with you on a first date, or playing tennis whilst taking a poo…this is something ostomates do every day. In a recent 2016 survey we carried out we found that 30% of ostomates said they were afraid to go out after surgery, further isolating them from the world.
The anxiety people feel worrying about their bag bursting, leaking or just smelling often means they cut themselves off from society.
You’re Not Alone
Although it can often feel as though going through stoma surgery is an experience few can understand, in fact it’s estimated that 15,000 people have stoma surgery every year in the UK and Colostomy UK provide support in a variety of formats so that no one ever need feel alone:
Support groups: We have the contact details for stoma support groups across the UK which can be found on our website here.
Tidings: In our quarterly support magazine Tidings we share the struggles, stories and advice from other ostomates across the country.
Facebook: Our closed Facebook group offers peer to peer support and with over 7500+ members there’s bound to be someone who would understand what you’re going through.
Stoma Helpline: Our volunteers offer insight and guidance from their own experiences and are also there just to listen if that’s what you need. The number is 0800 328 4257
One of the core reasons we exist as a charity is to support ostomates and ensure that they never have to be alone in facing their issues.