Advice for New Ostomates by Sophia Haden

Advice for New Ostomates by Sophia Haden

Hi, my name is Sophia and I'm 18 years old. I'm currently in my first year of university studying physiotherapy! I love doing all sorts like climbing, music and having a good laugh with friends on the occasional pub night. 

In terms of my stoma surgery, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when I was 17 and firstly admitted to hospital due to a flare up. Around three months later, I was admitted to hospital again due to a flare and no medication was working and so I was told that surgery would have to be the next step. You can imagine as an 18 year old who was about to start uni, it was tough to hear but knowing that this stoma was going to save my life was a relief. 

I really do believe that social media can help people understand the reality of not only inflammatory bowel disease or a stoma but also living with disabilities and invisible disabilities (trust me, the amount of weird and judgy looks I've had from people when I put my blue badge out is hilarious). 

My mental health in the days after surgery was okay but I just wanted to get back to my life so physically it was tough because I wasn't allowed to do anything. However, I definitely think that the fact that my mental health was so good was because I was still on steroids!! In the months after my surgery it did start to kick in about how this will affect my life and I've definitely had a good few meltdowns over it - my girlfriend can certainly testify!

Tiktok and social media has definitely helped me in my stoma journey with learning more about my body and what's going on as well as showing me that I can still do everything with my stoma, if not more since my surgery. Yes, I can even go swimming with my bag on!

Educating yourself on stomas can be tough and I do feel like they're quite a niche thing. If you're looking to educate yourself then Colostomy UK has loads of articles out there and Ostique’s podcasts and blog posts are great too. My favourite people with stomas on social media at the moment would be @stomababe and @isabella suta. 

If I had to give my younger self a piece of advice it would be to not care what other people think and you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. Put you, yourself and your mental health first because you're stuck with you forever. Don't lose years and years overthinking other people and focus on you because you've gone through so much and I'm so proud of you Soph!! 

New ostomates if you're out there, stoma life isn't easy is it! But my biggest piece of advice would be to think about all the things you can do now that you couldn't do in the past. I've started a little series on my tiktok proving that if you don't want people to know you have an ostomy then they don't have to! It's your life so if you don't want to tell the world then don't - your body, your stoma, your life. I know that I was so scared about swimming and if you're a bikini girl then high waisted briefs are totally your best friend! 

When I was on holiday I was a little insecure about Astrid (yes, I named my stoma) but I saw a lady with a diabetes implant and thought to myself “well she's not embarrassed of her little thing so why should I be embarrassed of my little thing” and I'm so glad I got in that pool that day! 

1 comment

I had surgery 2 days ago and today is the first big cry I’ve had over it. I knew it was coming but it went from vague to “tomorrow” within 4 or 5 hours. I’m currently tired and in pain and trying to focus on how much better my life will be after I recover. But this is still A LOT.

Kathryn Slater

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