STOMA SPECIFIC COUNSELLING

The sad news of a young man in the UK requesting his right to die rather than have a stoma has spurred me on to continue my quest to ask the government to put into place within the NHS,  a stoma specific counsellor role.

Rather than wait a very long time doing a petition to have it declined because there may not be enough signatures, I have written to Matt Hancock ( Secretary of state for health and social care ) in the hope that he will act upon my request. All those who are awaiting stoma surgery have a degree of fear of the unknown and have no real idea of what to expect. To be able to speak to someone who has that knowledge either by having a stoma themselves, or be a trained stoma counsellor, would have a big impact on the mental wellbeing of future stoma patients. To be able to ask those questions that are running around in your head and get the right answers would be so positive.

It’s the fear that can delay surgery so that fear needs to be calmed and the only way that can be done with someone who can answer those fears. I have had counselling but found it mediocre at best because the counsellor just couldn’t understand fully and therefore couldn’t possibly help with my concerns.

I was lucky though, I  had the total support of my family, friends, and stoma nurse and I didn’t have time to think about having a stoma due to the speed of surgery ( not really sure if that is positive or negative) but what I do know is that depression is an affect of chronic ill health and that can alter your fear and vision of what life with a stoma is  like, that is why a stoma specific counsellor is so needed before an after surgery.

This is a copy of the letter on the way to Matt Hancock, I just hope he reads it.

Dear Matt Hancock

As you may have read in the news very recently, a young man from Barnsley has asked for his right to die rather than have a stoma formed to save his life. That someone can believe death to be a better option than life with a stoma is surely indicative of the life-altering nature of the surgery, both physically and mentally. I am one of thousands of British people with a stoma and I can understand the fear and uncertainty this can cause.

This is why I, and many others believe that a stoma specific counsellor would be the most help to patients pre and post surgery.

I had generic counselling myself and although it was good to talk to someone, I believe I would have experienced far greater benefits with a stoma-specific expert counsellor. It is often left to the individual themselves to seek out this kind of help either online or through stoma charities.

Many people are unable to find help and support within their immediate circle, as few people are aware of the conditions that lead to having a stoma, and it can be difficult to talk about.

They may not realise that their chronic illness is causing underlying depression, which in turn leads to them to fear for their quality of life in the future. This suffering, which often occurs in silence, could be vastly reduced by the implementation of stoma-specific pre and post surgery counselling.

Rather than go through a slow process of a petition to ask you to review my request for a stoma specific counsellor, I believe it is critical to contact you directly as time is of the essence. The news of the young man being so widespread in the stoma community could potentially put people off the surgery who are in desperate need of it.

Would you please reply with any other information you may need to make this important role within the NHS happen.

Kind regards

Clare Mee

 

 

 

 

 

Where is the post surgery counselling for patients and their families

I feel the need to express my concern about how little help ostomates and their families get about coming to terms with life changing surgery. I am starting a petition which I intend to take to the government asking them to make it part of the policy for post surgical care,  that we receive help mentally post surgery from someone who has knowledge of life changing surgeries, until we can cope for ourselves. This would also help with any complications that have arisen from surgery as I would also like the counsellor to have access to the surgeon and stoma nurses to quick refer any physical difficulties we may have back to them. Surgeons can’t just leave people to suffer with complications like hernias and fistulas for years on end before they get repair surgery, as quality of life is reduced so much by these things.

I have met and spoken to many people who have had this surgery and who feel lost once at home on their own. They don’t feel able to go out much because of body image, (a big concern for most ostomates )as well as leaking, pain, and they think that this is their life from now on. They don’t like to bother medical professionals all the time if the bags don’t work or their skin is raw they feel there is nothing to be done. They don’t realise that it is not normal and they should keep going back until it is sorted. Post surgery counselling and care would help those many people in this position.

I had counselling that I had to ask for myself, and I had to refer myself which seems the way nowadays, it is wrong on so many levels. My main concern is the amount of time it takes to get a first appointment, mine was months after my surgery and I was really really struggling. Secondly the counsellors themselves have absolutely no idea what it is like to live with a stoma and the lifestyle changes that involves. I was given cognitive behaviour therapy which didn’t really help me at all, after my sessions ended I just pretended they helped so I could get out of there. I know I had some post traumatic stress but CBT doesn’t do anything for that ( at least that was my opinion for me and my mental health) People need to be put in touch with stoma associations and groups, as I have also met people who were not aware they existed. It would have made so much difference in their recovery.

After a couple of months at home it is generally assumed that we can get on with things and don’t need as much support, but it is exactly that time when it is needed the most. Any concerns have become apparent by then, folk have had time to dwell on the enormity of there surgery, body image issues have surfaced and family concerns may be bubbling away, sex, relationships and seeing your partner/parent/ family member who was once bubbly and active, become reclusive and depressed. If you haven’t got a partner you may be worrying about telling someone, and what will happen when you do.

These are all real concerns that may not go away without support and help from a professional counsellor with the right skills.

I am drafting a petition to the government to get funding for tailored counselling specifically designed to meet the needs of ostomates. I will post it on social media and my blog and I hope I can get as many signatures as needed to make this possible.

Thank you