Child laughing fun ostomate

That might seem like a silly question.  You might be thinking “I’m an ostomate – how can I have fun?”  However, the two don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive.   As an ostomate it is important to still find the joy in life, even if it is just in the little things.

Stomal surgery can be a very big deal. It can momentarily take the light out of life.  And there may be major adjustments to make afterwards.  It can seem as if you are being thrown a massive curve ball and are being challenged in a very profound way.   You can feel overwhelmed and insecure about so many things, such as how to cope with the new circumstances, what your life is going to be like from now on, what the future holds etc.  There can be a lot of uncertainty.

But these feeling don’t have to be permanent.  You can learn to cope, you can make the adjustments, and you can find your way through the maze of uncertainty towards a new way of life that is still full of meaning and purpose.  And this process can be made easier by having some fun!

Fun is individual

The type of fun you have after stomal surgery may be different to what you did for enjoyment before you had surgery, but the concept is still the same – doing something that makes you laugh, feel lighter, lifts your heart and brings joy into your life.  It is often said that laughter is the best medicine, and you can certainly cope better when you can laugh.  Fun helps you focus on the present and enjoy the moment rather than dwelling on the past or fearing the future.  Fun can provide some mental rest and a brief reprieve from the daily concerns or challenges.  Fun helps you forget what is going on in your life and allows you to just indulge in a pleasant activity.

What one person experiences as fun may not be the same for others, and so the concept of fun is very individual.  You may need to adjust or moderate your fun-filled endeavours for a little while after stomal surgery in order not to stress or strain your body whilst it is still recovering, but even then you can still indulge in enjoyable pursuits.  And whilst your body is healing you could also spend the time daydreaming of what you WILL do when your body is ready.

So ask yourself: What represents fun for you?

Picnic fun ostomates

Fun can be simple

Fun does not need to be taxing or expensive. It doesn’t need to be a large scale endeavour that requires a lot of time, energy or money.  Fun can be free, and it need only last 5 mins to have a beneficial impact on your wellbeing.  It can involve really simple activities such as:

–       Sitting in a sunny spot reading a book or a magazine

–       Having a coffee and a good chat with a loved one

–       Chilling out whilst watching a funny movie

–       Singing along to the radio or your favourite CD

–       Sharing a joke with a like-minded friend

–       Going for a relaxing stroll in a pleasant environment, such as a park, the bush or the beach

–       Visiting your favourite place

–       Going on a picnic (at a venue with toilet facilities of course!) or sharing a lovely meal with friends

–       Floating away in a bed of delicious daydreams……

There are many and varied ways to have fun.  The goal for you is to work out what represents fun for you now, as the person you are today, and then engage in that activity as often and for as long as possible. Aim to lighten your mood as much as you can.  When you’ve had some fun, check in with yourself – how does it feel? Do you feel happier, lighter, more liberated?  Do you feel that you can cope with your challenges a little more easily? If so, make fun a priority in your life and schedule some more light-hearted, joyful activities into your diary to keep up the momentum.  After all, practice makes perfect!

Dietary choices after stomal surgery can have an impact on the amount and type of nutrients available for the body to make important chemicals in the brain that are necessary to gain pleasure from life.  If your diet is restrictive and you feel you may be lacking in this area as a result, a nutritional consultation may be of benefit.  Please contact me for assistance.

I recently heard a blessing that contained the phrases:

“May you be at peace, may you be well, may you find loving kindness.”

I would add:  “May you also have fun!”

Wishing you good health and happy days,


Article by Margaret Allan

Margaret Allan is a qualified Nutritionist who advises Ostomates and the general public on diet and health-related matters. Nutrition for Ostomates provides a range of consulting options - find out more on our Services Page.