Editor's Note: This article was originally written by patient expert Brooke Bogdan and is based on her personal experience. The views expressed in this article do not reflect the opinions or views of HealthCentral.com.
When I found out that I had to have my colon removed and have an ostomy for the next 10-12 months because of my life threatening ulcerative colitis, there were many thoughts that ran through my mind.
What was my daily life going to be like? Are people going to look at me differently because of my pouch?
Honestly, one of my biggest preparations and thought processes had to do with what I was going to wear when I had my pouch. I knew that I was going to have to adjust my fashion style and wear items of clothing that were not only comfortable but made me feel confident.
Getting dressed after the first surgery
After my first surgery, I was getting dressed in my hospital room in the same type of outfit that I had been wearing for the past six months—sweatpants and a tank top. As soon as I put it on and looked in the mirror, my attention immediately was drawn to the lower right part of my abdomen, where my ostomy had been placed only days before.
This triggered a lot of emotions. I knew my life had changed completely but never realized how drastic that truly was until getting dressed in my hospital room for the first time with my pouch.
From eating habits to my clothes - I had to make a change.
Making changes while staying positive
Along with my initial reaction of panic and confusion, I knew that positivity was also vital to me surviving this journey. I had to learn how to apply positivity to every aspect of what I was experiencing.
As a girl in her mid-twenties, shopping, fashion and how I looked in clothes was and still is important to me. After finding that my usual outfits of tighter fitting t-shirts, tank tops, midriff bearing items of clothing, and even jeans were not going to work anymore, I thought to myself that I couldn’t be the only girl that was struggling with this problem.
After many trials and some frustration, I found solutions that worked well for me. I decided to share them on my blog, Fierce and Flared, and my suggestions were well-received by the ostomy and IBD community.
My personal tips for dressing with an ostomy:
1. Jeans may be a no-go. They may not work with where your pouch sits. Plus, if you are going through any surgery series, then your abdomen is going to be swollen for much of the time that you have your pouch. Jeans press on the swelling and are uncomfortable.
2. Follow the trend. Yoga pants, leggings, and high-rise jeggings are all the craze.
3. You can crop. With those high-rise leggings and pants comes the opportunity to wear crop tops! Staying on trend with the ability to look and feel sexy is possible.
4. Go for oversized. Any time of the year is a great time for an oversized cardigan. They can be worn with loose fitting jean shorts in the summer or with leggings, boots and knee socks in the winter. They were life-savers for me. I could still wear my favorite tanks/tees underneath, but when I was feeling uncomfortable or not as confident in myself, I could close the sweater.
5. Max out on maxis. When it’s warmer outside you still have options - maxi dresses always worked well for me. They are comfortable, loose-fitting, and not too revealing for hot summer or spring days.
6. Scarves. Stock up on scarves — they can be worn longer to cover your midsection.
Those were great starting points for me to explore as I was learning more about life with my ostomy. Adjusting your style to fit your new body is scary and frustrating, but if you stay positive — and know that there are so many resources out there to support you — you will find that anything is possible. Remember that your style could be inspiring to others who are going through what you are.
In order to outline her journey with ulcerative colitis, surgeries, an ostomy and now a jpouch, Brooke Bogdan created an online magazine and blog entitled, “Companion Magazine for IBD.” Companion Magazine provides positive support and guidance for those living with and affected by Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis. For more information and guidance on living life with inflammatory bowel disease and/or an ostomy, please visit Companion Magazine at www.companionibd.com.