My name is Ollie, I'm 37 years old, married with 2 kids and I've had a colostomy for 2 years.
I had to have surgery due to diverticulitis causing a fistula between my bowel and my bladder which had a few unfortunate consequences as I'm sure you could imagine! I have always been an active person so I was committed to getting back to an active lifestyle post surgery. Initially I was surprised at how much having surgery took its toll on my body and how long it took me to get back up and about just doing normal day to day activities.
I spent a lot of time researching how people had returned to activity post surgery and it seemed clear that there were two key elements to success:
- Patience, little steps and gradual improvement, don't expect yourself to be at the level you were prior to surgery straight away.
- Good support wear, key to making sure you're looking after your body and are able to do the things you love without risking further injury or complications.
I feel that having the right support wear also added a level of confidence and comfort when I initially started out as it can be weird exercising with a bag hanging off you to start! You also want to be sure you're minimising the risk of leaks or accidents as that was definitely one of my main concerns to begin with.
I now use various support wear throughout my daily routines. I use support briefs and a vest for my daily routine to give me the comfort and security I need during my day and to allow me to carry on wearing my usual trousers and shirts at work. When running I also use the support vests to keep everything tucked away nicely and give my stomach muscles the support they need. Then when I play football or rugby I use the vest as a base layer and then give myself the extra support and protection of a support belt as well.
I'm very conscious that having a colostomy shouldn't negatively impact my day to day life, having the correct support wear allows me to carry on doing everything and anything I want to with the confidence that I had pre surgery. I play football regularly with friends, I run quite a bit - I ran my first half marathon when my stoma was 1 year old and I've also started to play rugby with Team Colostomy UK. Having a colostomy shouldn't be a barrier to sport or an active lifestyle, you just might need a few more things in your kit bag each week.
Physical activity has been key to both my physical and mental recovery so I'm really grateful there's the tools out there to make it easy to look after myself and to get back out there!