Organize your supplies.

Jul 12, 2021

Getting organized 

Ostomies come with a lot of baggage that can clutter up your home and your mind. Try to get a handle on all that clutter before it engulfs you. 

Within a few weeks of surgery, you’ll be awash in ostomy supplies and paraphernalia. The place where you change your appliance can start to look like a M.A.S.H. unit. That’s not good for you psychologically, and not very pleasant for family members or visitors either. You’ll all feel more positive if you can get it back to looking more homey, and less like a hospital. 

Try to have all your supplies within easy reach when needed, but out of sight the rest of the time.  

Donate unused supplies to an organization that distributes ostomy products to people in need, locally or in developing countries.  You’ll feel good about helping others while enjoying all that freed-up space. 

Everyone’s needs and available space are different but to use my own situation as an example, here’s what worked best in my tiny bathroom: 

A plastic container set of 3 drawers on wheels, tucked away behind the door, within reach of the toilet. Inexpensive but very effective. 

In the top two drawers, I keep my stash of supplies - baseplates, pouches, bag liners, resealable plastic bags, and odor control bags.  

The bottom drawer is for leftovers – sample products I may try sometime, and products I don’t need every day but want to have ready in case of skin irritations, etc. I also keep my well-bagged used baseplates, pouches, and a box of bag liners in there, awaiting disposal. “Leftovers” in the true sense of the word! When I remember, I toss in a scented dryer sheet, just to be extra sure things stay fresh.  

On top of the toilet tank is a mirror (positioned so I can see what I’m doing when facing the toilet), and a small acrylic chest of 3 more drawers. I don’t know what it was meant for. Maybe jewelry or makeup? It’s attractive, and the perfect size for small ostomy products – like packets of adhesive remover, barrier rings, ostomy scissors, and about a week’s worth of bag liners.  

The result is that I can stand in front of the toilet, see what I’m doing, and reach everything I need without taking a step. But when I’m not changing my appliance, everything’s tucked away behind closed drawers and no-one would ever guess my bathroom is “ostomy central.”  

Taking care of an ostomy is very hands-on. But a little paperwork can be helpful too - like a food journal, where you keep track of new foods you try and note if they had any effect.  

It’s also handy to have a notebook to record medical information. This can be as simple as the names and contact information of your doctors, stoma nurse, and whoever you order supplies from, the product numbers of your ostomy supplies, a list of your current medications,  the date(s) of your operation(s),  and the type of surgery you had, including what part of your intestines were affected. Bring this with you to medical appointments or ER visits so you can answer questions without looking like a deer in the headlights. You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget details, particularly if you’re under stress.   

Bottom line: Show your ostomy who’s boss. As much as you can, take control of your environment and the management of your ostomy. This will leave you time to get back to more important things, like enjoying the rest of your life. 

Courtesy Joan Scott, author of The Ostomy Raft