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Wed, Oct 23 5:00pm · Mayo Clinic Arizona Ostomy Support Group in Ostomy


Mayo Clinic Arizona

Ostomy Support Group

If you or someone you know has a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy, you may be interested in attending the Mayo Clinic Arizona Ostomy Support Group

  • Information on managing stoma and skin surrounding stoma
  • Updates on new and current ostomy care and products
  • Helpful tips from other members
  • Invited speakers such as physicians, ostomy nurses and ostomy product representatives
  • Support and Education
  • Led by Mayo Clinic Arizona Ostomy Nurses certified in Ostomy Care.

Meets every 1st Tuesday of the Month at 6:00 pm

Mayo Clinic Arizona Hospital Campus

5777 East Mayo Boulevard

Phoenix, Arizona 85054

Room 1-212

Thu, Jul 11 9:47am · Swimming with an Ostomy in Ostomy

swimming pic

written by Charlene Germer, RN, C.W.C.N

There are people who enjoy swimming but feel as though having an ostomy prevents them from continuing to enjoy this activity. At first it may seem that swimming is no longer acceptable because of having to wear an ostomy pouch and fear that people may believe or think that someone with an ostomy should not be allowed in a pool, lake or even a cruise.  But the truth is you can swim with an ostomy and should not give up the activities that you enjoy.

The pouching system is water resistant and designed to not leak if properly sealed. Water will not harm nor enter your stoma. Always make sure the seal is secure. Empty your pouch before and make sure the wafer has been on for an hour prior to getting wet. If you are concerned about the output especially an Ileostomy eat a few hours before swimming. Use a filter cover stick on your deodorizing filter which prevents water from entering the pouch. Once you are dry you may remove the filter cover stick.  Always carry extra supplies with you. If you are still unsure about swimming fill your bathtub with water, put your bathing suit on and sit in the tub for half an hour and when you see that there is no leakage your will feel more confident and you also get to see how you swimming suit looks with an ostomy pouch.

What to wear is always a question especially when it comes to swimming. Wear what makes you feel comfortable and swimming with an ostomy should be fun and stress free-no worries.


Tue, May 28 6:30pm · Ostomy Diet After Surgery in Ostomy


written by Olivia Baker, MS, RDN

When you hear that you need to have ileostomy surgery, you may wonder how this will affect your diet. The biggest concerns that patients with an ileostomy have include ostomy output, odor, and gas. While there is not an “official” ileostomy diet, there are some foods that can aggravate some of these symptoms.  Some general suggestions to prevent or manage these concerns include:

  • Keep regular meal times, this helps regulate ostomy output
  • Chew all food thoroughly.  Chewing eases the digestive process and can reduce the occurrence of blockages.
  • Include stool-thickening foods. You typically absorb more nutrients and water when food moves slowly thorough the digestive tract. Foods that can help with this include applesauce, bananas, bread, rice, and pasta.
  • Stay hydrated. Making up for fluid lost in your ostomy is key to preventing dehydration
  • Try new foods one at a time. This will help you choose the foods that best agree with your body and can help manage stool consistency
  • Avoid using straws and chewing gum. These cause excess gas.
  • Know which foods cause odor, and which can help lessen it. For example, buttermilk and yogurt can help prevent odors caused by foods like asparagus, eggs, fish, garlic, and onions

It is a good idea to stay away from foods that cannot be completely digested during the first two weeks after surgery. This includes fresh/raw fruits and vegetables. Once you are cleared to begin adding these foods back into your diet, take it slow. Add one new food back in at a time, so you can help find what foods agree with you, and foods that do not. But it’s important to not eliminate a food from your diet without trying it a few times. A well-balanced diet will help your body recover from surgery and keep you on track for a healthy lifestyle.

Have more questions? Ask your care provider or ask them to schedule a nutrition consult with a Mayo Clinic RDN.

Mon, May 20 5:58pm · Intimacy with an Ostomy in Ostomy

intimacy pic

written by D. Fechner RN, CWOCN

Intimacy and an Ostomy

Let’s talk about one of the things that no one wants to bring up…..but what everyone is thinking! Am I right?!? One of the biggest concerns for new ostomates is how the ostomy will affect their relationships.  It’s natural to feel stressed about possible relationship issues related to your ostomy.  Some common questions are: Will my partner look at me differently?  How will it affect my dating life and/or sexual relationships?  How will the pouch affect my sex life?  The good news is intimacy and sex is still possible after having ostomy surgery!

The most important thing to remember is there is more to intimacy than just sexual relationships. Being intimate with your partner is about a deep level of familiarity, closeness and trust between two people.  Being open and honest with your feelings will help your partner understand what you are going through and create a deeper bond.  It’s very important to talk and share about your feelings and not hold them inside.

If you are dating and you anticipate things getting more serious, make sure to be open and honest with your partner. Be upfront about what they can expect with your body.  Explain why you had the surgery and why you need to wear a pouching system.  Explain to them how this has changed your life and situation for the better so your partner understands.  This will create a level of trust and intimacy.

If you are in a committed relationship, make sure to include your partner as soon as possible. Bring them to all your pre-op appointments where the topic will most likely get brought up.  You can talk to the surgeon about how it will affect your body together.  Most couples feel this actually brings them closer.   Involve them early in pouching changes in the hospital so they know what to expect.  Attend a pre-op education class to learn about all the information upfront.  If you learn all this upfront, it lessens the shock and fear that comes with the unknown.

Here is a list of suggestions to make intercourse more comfortable following surgery:

  • Empty the pouch prior
  • Make sure all connections are secure and locked
  • Buy special clothing options to make yourself feel more comfortable such as silky tops, wraps, cummerbunds, and/or specialized underwear
  • Consider a fabric pouch cover to prevent rubbing on your partners skin
  • Smaller pouches and pouches with opaque covers will conceal contents in the pouch
  • You don’t need to change anything with positioning-do what you are comfortable with
  • Take things slow and remember sex is about your comfort level
  • Never use the stoma for intercourse

Remember, the most important thing is to be proactive, open and communicate. Support groups are also available after surgery and a good place to share your concerns.   Your WOC RN is also a great resource to help with clothing and accessory options.  The United Ostomy Association of America (UOAA) has wonderful written information and resources about intimacy and sexuality on their website: http://www.ostomy.org.

Meet other people talking about living with an ostomy on Mayo Clinic Connect. Join the conversation, share experiences, ask questions, and discover your support network.

Tue, Apr 30 1:51pm · REDUCING RISK OF COMPLICATIONS: Recovering after surgery in Ostomy


written by Mary Famorca MAN, RN, COCN

REDUCING RISK OF COMPLICATIONS: Recovering after surgery

After a major surgery, it is necessary to recognize that each individual have different levels of energy and strength to meet the physical demands of their job, school or life in general. It is important for a person to listen to their own body and be guided by how you feel. It is important to be patient and don’t expect too much of yourself too soon. However there are a few gentle activities that you can do to aid in your own recovery.

Appropriate gentle activities to do in the early phase of your recovery might include:

  • Walking – adopt a more upright posture and think about “standing tall”
  • Gentle core and abdominal movements – breathing & relaxation and pelvic floor muscle exercise
  • Mobility, balance and coordination exercise

The suggested activities need to be balance with appropriate amounts of sleep and rest in order to recover. Remember to always consult with your provider when you can start increasing your activities and exercise. For further information please go to the United Ostomy Association of America or you can also look up the Me+ program by ConvaTec.


Parastomal hernia is an abnormal bulge around the stoma. This is technically an extra loop of bowel that squeezes through between the stoma and abdominal wall and sits between the skin and the muscle of the abdominal wall. There are things that you can do to reduce your risk:

  • Speak to your surgeon about parastomal hernia prevention
  • Stop smoking
  • Wear a light support garment
  • Manage your weight
  • Strengthen your abdominal muscles
  • Stay active
  • Maintain strong arm muscles to help you lift and move more safely
  • Try to “breathe out” as you lift and make sure to hold the object close to your body
  • Be cautious when you push, twist or pull any objects or doing any kind of physical housework and gardening-it is better to avoid this type of activities for a first few weeks until you feel you are ready

Tue, Apr 16 3:11pm · Cleanliness and Odor Control in Ostomy


written by J. Morris RN, MSN, CWOCN

Cleanliness and Odor Control

One of the biggest concerns for new Ostomates is the fear of odor from their new ostomy.  Whether you have a urostomy, ileostomy or colostomy, this can be a legitimate concern.  But there is great news: ostomy products are odor-proof when worn correctly!  The only time there should ever be an odor is when you are emptying /changing your pouch.

Remember certain foods may cause an increase in odors.  But only when emptying!

Here are some quick guidelines to keep you and your pouch clean:

  • For drainable pouches, keep the bottom couple inches free of stool
    • After emptying use a damp paper towel or toilet paper to wipe out the bottom of the pouch.
    • This prevents stool from getting on the outside of the pouch when closing it
  • For 2 piece systems, always check the connection between the flange and the pouch, these should be tightly sealed.
    • This prevents stool/urine from getting on the wafer or outside of pouch.
    • Keeping the outside of your pouch clean is essential.
  • Consider using a liquid deodorant such as Adapt lubricating deodorant in your pouch. There are also deodorants that can be taken by mouth. Your Ostomy RN can speak with you about these options.

Wed, Mar 6 6:07pm · Is your current pouching system right for your body type? in Ostomy


Our bodies change and with that sometimes our ostomy pouching system may need to change too.  There is no one size fits all for everybody or every stoma.  Gaining or lose of weight, abdominal surgery or even natural changes from aging can change our stoma and surrounding skin which can lead to a poor fit of a pouching system.  It is advised to have periodic reviews of your pouching system with your ostomy nurse to ensure consistent wear time and maintain intact peristomal skin.

There are many pouching systems available including one- and two-piece systems.  Skin barriers (the part attaching to the skin) comes in both flat and convex.  As your body changes due to weight, surgery or aging, the skin barrier you choose may make a difference in your wear time.

There are several considerations when deciding between a flat or convex skin barrier.  Your ostomy nurse can help.  He or she will start by examining your abdomen for the presence of creases or folds.  If the area is flat in all positions, a flat barrier may provide a good fit.  If there are creases or folds in the area, a convex barrier can help to flatten the creases providing a good fit.  A second consideration for a convex barrier would be when a stoma does not protrude above the skin and the waste leaks under the barrier.  Finding the most appropriate type of skin barrier and amount of convexity depth can be overwhelming.  Your ostomy nurse will help with this.

If you have any questions or concerns about the fit and wear time of your pouching system, please see your local ostomy nurse for help.

Tue, Jan 8 12:58pm · Patient Story: Improved Quality of Life in Ostomy


written by J. Stanhill

My Ostomy Improved My Quality of Life

My story goes back to 1974. I had just graduated from culinary school in Los Angeles. I was having digestive issues, and on the advise of my parents, went to see a gastroenterologist. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. A year later, after many prescriptions, the diagnosis came in with Crohn’s disease. At that time not much was known about Crohn’s, only to treat it with diet and medication. At one time I was taking thirteen pills three times a day. The worst of it was prednisone. 50 MG a day. For those that have been on it, you know what it does to you. Not pleasant!.

For three years, I saw my doctor monthly and stayed on the meds as I was told. I stayed on the diet (no fresh fruit or fresh veggies, no milk as they thought I was lactose intolerant. I was a regular at the local hospital. At least once every two months from bad cramping and spasms. Demerol was the only thing that would ease the pain.

Finally in April of 1978, I went in for a colectomy. In those days, the surgery took 7-8 hours and left me with a twelve inch scar from below my chest to my groin. A year later the Crohn’s reappeared. The rest of my large intestine was removed and an ileostomy was put in place. Fortunately I have not taken any medication for Crohn’s since then.

During my illness I was blessed to have met my beautiful wife. We actually met before my first surgery. I must tell you that there is no way I could have made it without her. She was my rock then and is still today. This August we will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We have also been blessed with two beautiful children and now two amazing and loving grandkids.

Fast forward 35 years. I had a few visits to the hospital due to adhesions, but managed to only be in for a few days each time.

I have been dealing with bowel obstructions and a Stomal hernia for the past four plus years. Twice the hernia has been repaired. Since the obstructions started, I have had to remove items from my diet. The doctors at Mayo have been amazing. And I can’t say enough about the nurses and the quality of care that I have received each time I had to be admitted. They are the BEST! Each time, my wife would stay with me. It is so important to have an advocate with you while you are a patient.

During my recent visit, one of my nurses was Teddy. He also has an ileostomy. He shared with me about a support group that was being formed at Mayo for Ostomy patients. I was very excited to hear this and told him that I wanted to be part of it. To say the least, I look forward to helping other Ostomy patients with their issues and just being there to listen to what they have to say.

I am currently a culinary arts teacher the Peoria Unified School District.

Thank you for letting me share my story.

Meet other people talking about living with an ostomy on Mayo Clinic Connect. Join the conversation, share experiences, ask questions, and discover your support network…