Going Back To Work After Surgery

Going back to work after surgery is a daunting prospect, I had a total of 6 months off work from my flare up and then the surgery. I had a real mix of emotions I was excited to have a sense of normality again, but nervous about the questions I may get asked. How do you explain the surgery you have had done? Will people ask to see it? So many questions and scenarios run through your head as you’re preparing to go back to work, not only what I may get asked but things like what do I need to take with me? Will people see it under my work clothes? What happens if I am in a meeting and it makes an almighty noise??? All sounds ridiculous to people reading this who haven’t had their bowel removed but you think of the silliest things! Before I went back into the office I had a meeting with my manager and HR team and we had agreed to a phased return to work, over a period of 3 months they wanted to ease me back into it, a couple of mornings here and the odd afternoon and slowly increased my hours until I was ready for full time again. I also had to undertake assessments with my companies healthcare team, where they had to assess if I was fit for work and any adaptations to my role. To explain I am an Events and Exhibitions Manager travelling across the UK and Internationally running large scale events, the only adaptations I asked for was to not be travelling to much to begin with and to change the laptop bag etc that I carry as you have to take a heavy bag all over the country whilst recovering still.

First Day Back

First day came around so quickly!! On my first morning back I must of backed my bag a couple of times as you have a panic about what you need with you. Once I got back into the office I think people were generally concerned about me, asking how I was feeling and how much weight I had lost etc, after the general chit chat people started asking me what happened and I must of explained it a million times over, peoples faces and the general lack of peoples knowledge of the disease I had or the surgery I undertook was surprising – I told people I had my colon removed 9 out of 10 people didn’t even know what a colon was!

First Few Weeks

People get more confident in asking you more questions, they are intrigued about what you have, and I had a couple of people even ask if they could see my bag … I wasn’t ready to show anyone from work so just made my excuses and walked off. As people started to understand what I had, had done they actually helped my confidence making comments of you would never know you have a bag, or I can’t see it – but do you know what I couldn’t care now if they did see it I am feeling so much better so what if they can see it!! I was overwhelmed by colleagues and friends saying how much happier I was and how happy and healthy I looked!

Top Tips On Going Back To Work 

When you first go to work you take your whole ostomy bag … thats just ridiculous! I went out and bought a small zip up wash bag, I packed a couple of spare bags, handy wet wipes, disposal bags, mini air fresheners and adhesive remover wipes.

– Tupperware – My best friend! I found that eating little and often reduced my noise so I would pack 5/6 small meals a day with me and eat prior to a meeting, also make sure it has carbs in it as that helps with gas etc

– I always have a bag in the boot of the car with spare clothes – think it’s the years of living with Ulcerative Colitis! I also carry a spare suit and shirt you never know if you will need to use it!

– Find a bag you have confidence in! The bag I have is fantastic, one thing I thought was how will I wear a belt on suit trousers without cutting off the supply I ordered an Ostomart Osto-shield and that helped when being on tubes if I got bumped or knocked and didn’t interfere with the belt.

The other thing was the Bag I had, I had confidence even if it rubbed from my belt that it would stay on! When first going back to work you will be mentally and physically exhausted, I slept a lot but over time it became easier, I became fitter and in a matter of a couple of weeks you go back to normal and I felt I could do my job better than before!