Stoma Struggles & University
Starting college or university can be a daunting time for anyone. Leaving home, meeting new people and having to make small talk can be quite nerve-wracking. Throw in living with a chronic illness, a disability or mental health issues and these worries are much worse.
That being said, when I started university I wasn’t at all worried about my stoma or my Crohn’s. I thought that after 10 years of living with it I’d be able to tell when something bad was going to happen and prevent it from happening. I was SO wrong.
At the start of my course, I was placed in a quiet classroom with around 30 students. I was working away at a booklet that our lecturer gave us and my stoma decided to let out a great big noise that just completely filled the room. Everyone just looked at me and I felt so embarrassed and upset to the point where I ran out of the room without an explanation. I was so annoyed with myself and the world. I remember thinking, why me, why couldn’t life be easier for me.
Finally, after a few days of missing lectures and pitying myself, I decided it was time to pluck up the courage and return back to uni. However, this time, I was ready to do everything in my power to prevent it from happening again.
After intense research and a lot of reading, I found absolutely no information on how I can prevent my stoma from making noise. It’s a completely normal part of having a stoma so it’s really difficult to control it. So I decided to put together my own top tips on how I managed to complete year 1 of university without worrying about another incident.
Tip 1- Noise solutions
I found that certain clothing helps muffle out any noise coming from the stoma. I highly recommend a support belt or support underwear under clothing to help add more layers to your outfit.
Without being completely bias, I found the extra layers in the Aura Jeans highly beneficial for muffling out the noise. As well as jeans, I also found that sports leggings which have a thick band at the top were also very helpful for supporting my stoma as well as reducing the noise.
For men, I would think that a good quality hernia support belt under clothing would do the trick.
It’s recommended that some foods should be avoided to help reduce the noise levels of your stoma. I noticed that my stoma only makes noise when I haven’t eaten in a few hours. I personally found that just eating little and often completely stopped the noise for me. This may not work for everyone, but it definitely worked for me.
Every morning I would make sure to have some porridge, toast or a cereal bar. I find that stodgy foods in the morning really help with slowing down my movements which reduces the chance of my stoma making a noise. I would take snacks such as marshmallows, sandwiches and bananas into lectures to ensure that I was constantly eating. I must warn you, this was not good for my weight but life is about compromise…right?
Tip 2- University help
All universities offer extra support and help to those who are disabled or having a chronic illness. I would highly recommend talking to your university about your condition and your needs in order for them to tailor that help for you.
For example, I was given a locker near the toilets to put my medical supplies and a change of clothes in. This was extremely helpful as I found that carrying medical supplies can be quite heavy.
I made sure that all lectures were all aware of my condition. So they provided me with extra flexibility such as being able to eat and drink in class, leaving in the middle of a lecture if I needed to and allow me more time to complete course work or exams. On top of that, I was also provided with a parking pass that allowed me to park close to campus so that I didn’t have to walk far (nearest free car park was 1/2 a mile away)
Tip 3- DSA (Disability Student Allowance)
Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) is a grant that helps with extra costs you may have to pay during your studies as a direct result of a disability, long-term health condition, mental-health condition or specific learning difficulty like dyslexia. It allows students to benefit from specialist equipment and technology that helps them with their studies.
I recommend all students who have declared a disability/medical condition to apply for this funding to assist with their studies whilst at university.
Information about the funding and how to apply can be found on the following here.
Tip 4- Don’t stress
It’s really easy to get all worked up and nervous during your time in university. But let me remind you that no one would actually know that I have a stoma unless you tell them.
So, if your stoma ever does make a great big noise, then either blame it on the person next to you or just brush it off!
I hope my tips have been helpful to all of you who are either starting or in the middle of your university/college experience.
Thanks for reading,