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Who Should You Tell About Your Stoma and How Exactly Should You Word It?

21st July 2020

Many ostomates find it difficult to open up about their stomas, particularly when their stoma is new and they haven’t properly adjusted to it yet. Some ostomates also wonder who they need to tell about their stoma and how they should go about that conversation. It’s important to point out that there is no rule with this subject and it’s completely up to you who you choose to discuss your stoma with.

However, we thought it might be useful to outline some of the people who will likely need to know about your stoma and how best to go about this.

Who to tell about your stoma

It is, of course, completely up to you who you choose to tell about your stoma and you shouldn’t feel pressured into telling people who you feel you don’t need to know. There are, however, some key people in your life who need to know and who you will benefit from telling due to the support they can give. 

Obvious examples include your family members and close friends, but it may also be worth telling people you interact with regularly such as your boss and certain work colleagues. By being open and honest with your boss, you’ll be able to receive the support and care that you need when you do return to work. Letting a few of your closest work colleagues know about the situation can also help to prevent any awkward situations from arising. 

How to tell people about your stoma

Once you’ve decided who you’re going to tell, you should start thinking about how you want to tell them and how much information you’re going to share, which will vary depending on who the person is. 

Below are our top tips for starting a conversation… 

Know what you want to say and be positive

Our first tip is to decide what you want to say before the conversation. This involves deciding how much information you’re going to give to that person, whether you’re just going to explain the fact you have a stoma or whether you’d like to discuss how you are feeling with that person. 

Once you know what you’re wanting to say, make sure you say it in a positive way. The way you come across during the conversation will massively impact the way the other person reacts and responds to the conversation. So, even if you are feeling slightly nervous, take a deep breath and try to relax during the conversation. Your listener will most likely respond in the same way and feel more relaxed during the conversation.

A light-hearted conversation about the subject can help to ease any awkwardness and helps you control the tone of the discussion.

Put yourself in your listeners shoes… 

The person you’re talking to won’t have been able to prepare for the conversation and likely hasn’t seen it coming. Be understanding of the fact that they may not know much about stomas and they may have some questions about how it’s going to impact things.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that people respond differently to situations and some may need time to process the news. Relax and have an open conversation with them to ensure you’re both on the same page and that they understand the situation and how it will impact things.

How to tell children and teenagers

If you have any young children or teenagers in your life, you may need to address the situation slightly differently to how you would with another adult. Young children may not understand the situation so try to give them the information in a simple and straightforward way. Of course, if the children in your family are particularly young, you may decide not to tell them.

When it comes to teenagers, it isn’t uncommon for them to react with anger or withdrawal when confronted with a family member’s health condition. The most important thing is to be honest and encourage them to express their emotions and ask any questions.

It’s also worth pointing out that your stoma nurse is always there to help you, so if you have any concerns make sure you discuss it with them! 

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