Christmas with an Ileostomy
By Thomas Crawford
The first time I had a Crohn’s disease flare-up, it was shortly after the Christmas break. During the festive period, we put our mind and bodies under extra stress. We worry about money and finding the right gifts, then we indulge in alcohol and food, letting our exercise routines lapse. I have a stoma now, which usually doesn’t require much thought, but I want to make sure I stay healthy and happy over the holidays.
Managing my Stoma for a Healthy and Happy Christmas
I might face some difficulties during the festive season, but every problem has a solution. (S)elf-awareness is a good place to begin. I’m not an expert on managing Crohn’s or stomas, but I do know my own body. I’ve been much more aware of my physical and mental wellbeing since my first experience with Crohn’s disease. I hope that by paying attention to my body, I will be able to recognise what does and doesn’t work for me.
I will drink alcohol during the holidays, but perhaps in smaller quantities than my family and friends will. I’ll be careful not to become dehydrated by making sure I also drink enough soft drinks. Who knows, this could be the secret to avoiding a hangover!
My family call me the Pie-Man, and I got that nickname for a reason! I will find it difficult not to eat everything I can, but I hope that if I’m careful, I can avoid any issues. I plan to eat little and often, and make sure I properly chew everything. If I stop eating in the early evening, I will (hopefully) avoid the night time bathroom trips to empty my bag.
It’s not easy to control stress, but I’ve found coping mechanisms. Before my stoma, I considered meditation a bit ‘out there’, but actually, it really helps me to clear my mind. I see it as a kind of yoga for the mind, and despite my previous opinions, I haven’t started hugging any trees!
Since my surgery, exercise has played a big part in my recovery. I usually combine yoga and meditation before bed, which calms the stresses which might otherwise have kept me awake. Poor sleep usually contributes to my stress, so I will also take the opportunity to have some naps over the festive season.
Most importantly, I want to enjoy spending this Christmas with family and friends. At some points during my illness, my loved ones didn’t know whether I would be here this Christmas. I know that it might seem clichéd, but we really should make the most of every moment. When Christmas rolls around, enjoy the company of those you love, eat, drink and be merry.