Being a Nurse and an Ostomate Amidst a Pandemic

OstomyLife Co-Moderator
03/20/20  2:33 PM PST
ostomate nurse pandemic

So, I have an autoimmune IBD and take immunosuppressive medications for it. I have an ostomy. I am a nurse. And there’s a pandemic.

Yikes! What is a girl to do?

When the COVID-19 news started spreading and people starting buying out the shelves and talking constantly about the virus, I didn’t think much of it.  It was far from me geographically and my concern was small.  When my office started talking about precautions to be put in place, I started to wonder, but I felt that I would be sufficiently protected by policies and felt confident.

Fast forward a day, just one day. STAT meetings are being called and protocols are changing every day, if not several times throughout the day, as more info comes to light and COVID-19 gets closer.

Queue panic mode.

And I did. I spent a day-and-a-half hiding my panic at work and putting my best foot forward to protect myself, my coworkers and my patients.  Then I took some time to think and to reason through the situation and this is where I am:

I am chronically ill and I am, to an extent, immunosuppressed  by my medication.

But I am healthy aside from that, and I am young. My respiratory system is strong.

I am a nurse and have patients who are relying on my knowledge and my compassion at this time.

I won’t let them down and I won’t let myself down.

I am wearing all the personal protective equipment (PPE) provided. I have been transparent with my boss and the doctors I work with, not with regards to my ostomy, but rather with my medications and diagnosis.  They understand my position and they are doing their best to support and protect me and everyone else.

The bottom line for me is that while I could get sicker than the next person, the goal is to keep everyone healthy.  It is my job to protect and assist my community, and I plan to do that.  I will continue to follow infection control and PPE measures to the T, and I will continue to show up for my patients, trust in those creating policies to protect us, and do my very best.

As far as having an ostomy at this time, not much is different thankfully! I am not needing my PPE for the entirety of the day, so that is helpful, and I make sure I wash my hands ten-fold before using the bathroom regardless of the reason. Actually, I wash my hands like crazy all day.

For my fellow ostomates, do your best to protect yourselves.  Many of us are immunocompromised and need to be careful.  Especially those of older ages with other comorbidities and especially those with respiratory compromise.

Take care, stay isolated as much as you can, consider your neighbors and fellow humans at this time, and stay updated and educated on the situation as best you can.

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1 comment

  1. Hi just gota ostomy in may. Learning now. Is permanent. I’m afraid no would want go out with me or date me if they find out that I have one. I don’t know if any one would hang out with me. Any one that wants help me in the future

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