Telling people about your ileostomy may be intimidating at first. But with the right approach, you can share the news with people you trust.
Telling people about your ileostomy may seem like an awkward or even anxiety-provoking task. So what’s the best way to approach the conversation?
As anyone with an ileostomy can tell you, there are lots of scenarios where you will need to inform a friend, coworker, family member, or romantic partner about your ostomy bag. Instead of waiting for the topic to come up at an inopportune moment, it helps to take charge of the conversation. When you address the topic head-on, with a planned-out approach at a time of your choosing, you’ll likely find there’s nothing to worry about after all.
How exactly do you bring up the topic of your ileostomy? And what should you say?
Of course, everyone’s ileostomy story is unique. But members of the ileostomy community also share many common experiences. If you’re stuck on how to tell new people about your ileostomy, here’s a helpful outline anyone can follow:
Consider bringing it up over a meal
Starting the conversation over a meal is a great way to introduce the topic. While looking at a menu, you have plenty of chances to point out your dietary restrictions, or explain why you prefer to order certain foods.
Know your script
Instead of winging it, people with ileostomies often say that they have a “spiel” or “script” for discussing their ostomies with new people. There’s no need to memorize your script word-for-word — it’s enough to come up with some key talking points in your conversation. First, you might explain the medical condition that led to your ileostomy. Then, you can segue into a discussion of what an ostomy bag does. Finally, you can explain why your ostomy is so important for your health.
Gauge the other person’s comfort level
Many people don’t even know what an ileostomy is, while others are quite familiar with the concept. It’s best to gauge the other person’s comfort level before assuming they know how ileostomies work. You can start by asking how much they know about ostomies. Then, you can explain where your ileostomy is located, and where you keep your ostomy bag. If the other person seems comfortable with all this, you can continue to explain some of the functions of the ostomy bag with more specifics. Of course, there’s never any need to go into more detail than you are comfortable with.
Maybe you’re not ready to tell people in your life about your ileostomy yet — and that’s okay. If you’re ready to explain the basics, but not answer any prying questions, that’s okay too. Knowing your comfort zone is the key to any successful ileostomy conversation.
If you’ve recently gotten an ileostomy, or are planning to get one soon, there’s a good chance you’ll worry about whether the people in your life will view you differently. Fortunately, most people will likely be more receptive to the conversation than you think.
With Dr. Don Schiller, you can undergo your procedure, recover from surgery, and learn how to live a happy, healthy life with your ileostomy. For ileostomy treatments from caring professionals, contact us at the Center for Ileostomy Surgery in Los Angeles today.