So, you’ve been told you need to have an ileostomy formed and the big day arrives for you to go down to theatre and have it formed. All the questions you were going to ask have flown through your ears and back out. You sit there sign the forms and get prepared for theatre and either walked down or wheeled down depending on a planned or emergency surgery.

What is an ileostomy?

An ileostomy is where your small bowel is pulled out through an opening in your tummy and stitched into place and that will have a stoma bag attached to it and that is now how your faecal matter will be exiting your body rather than its usual route.

“I am not a medical professional this is purely based from personal experience and several surgeries”

What happens after surgery?

You will awaken from your surgery in the recovery room and advised your stoma formation was successful and the surgery went well.

You will also be rather hazy and on the drug train that will help with the initial after surgery pain. Honestly it is going to hurt, I can’t lie about that. It will be painful, but the pain medication will take off the edge.

The following day

You have awoken to a new day and you are more lucid and the nurse will want to have you up and out of bed. The nurse is normally an enhanced recovery nurse and studies now show the quicker you are up and about then the quicker you will heal and get home (sounds sadistic) but it is a proven method and cuts discharge times for patients going home and recovering more quickly.

The aim on day one is to get you out of the bed and sitting up in a chair for at least half an hour and then back to bed.

Pain medication

Most patients have one of two options for pain relief. One is an epidural or the other is self-administered pump to top up should you be in any pain. I personally stay away from the epidural and it’s a longer recovery time and it normally numbs your abdomen and legs, so walking isn’t normally an option until it is removed. But please make your own choice depending on your pain tolerance. I prefer the pain relief pump and I am normally off of all Iv pain medication within 48 hrs and back to oral medication.

Ng Tubes

Now not everyone will wake up with one of these delightful tubes, but should your bowel be inactive and frozen then this is in until you start having normal bowel sounds and your bowel is active. If you do wake with one of these then it will be nil by mouth until normal action resumes and they will have other options of getting fluids and nutrition into your body. The Ng tube will be used to pull out any fluid collection’s and gas build up via a syringe they attach to an outlet on the tube.

Walk the line

Most gastro wards have a lovely yellow or red line that goes around the outer hub of the ward in a rectangle. The aim before discharge is to have you be able to walk that without getting breathless and experiencing pain. I have walked this many time with bits attached to me as I find I recover better at home and want to get out of the hospital.


You will have a catheter inserted when you are under anaesthetic and this will remain in place to catch your urine and measure the output until you are mobile and able to get to the toilet to pass urine as normal. Don’t be alarmed at this, you won’t feel it unless you catch the tube when moving on the bed.


You will wake up and have one or maybe two drains attached to you that have the tube stitched into your abdomen with a bottle or drainage pack attached to the bottom. This is purely to drain any fluid or excess blood from your abdomen caused by the initial surgery. Sometimes these are removed quickly or on the day of discharge as long as the drain isn’t draining. My advice for when having these removed is to have oral pain relief half hour prior to removal. The pain is a weird one having these removed, it’s like a pressure and then a pop and it’s all over and removed. The site is dressed and left to heal on its own.

All expelled bodily functions are monitored

So, you are thinking yes, the catheter has gone and that’s a step forward to going home “It’s a brilliant step”. However once removed you will still have to pee in a pot until they are happy with the tests run on that and your output is in conjunction with what you are taking in with fluids. No, you can’t cheat. This is essential and needs to be monitored to make sure it is deemed safe for you to be sent home.

Ileostomy output

Your ileostomy output Is monitored until the day of discharge. They will not discharge you until your output has reached a porridge like consistency and the output is in line with what you are in-taking. There is food to help with this and that will be on a following post.

First bag change

If this is your first stoma then apologies as this will be daunting for you. General consensus from my experience is that if you can’t change your bag then discharge won’t be possible until you have a handle on the change. The stoma nurse will sit with you and show you how to change the appliance. Should you not feel comfortable with changing it then they will do that for you. The stoma will not be hurt by you changing it. It has no feeling. It may take several attempts but once you have mastered changing it yourself then that will be a weight off of your mind.

Stitch removal

It is normal to have the stitches removed from around the ileostomy site prior to discharge. This does not hurt and it’s better to have them removed as healing tissue can make them pull tight and cause discomfort. Please make sure you speak to your stoma nurse about this as some issues with leaking stomas and sore sites post-op are related to stitches not being removed and healthy tissue growing over the stitches.


Track suit bottoms, leggings or good old-fashioned pyjamas will be your friend as they are light and don’t impact the surgery sites and rub on healing wounds.

Warfarin injections

Due to the surgery and risk of blood clots due to bed rest then these are injected once a day to thin your blood and prevent the risk of blood clots. You will also have to wear teddy stockings both for your entire hospital stay and for a month after discharge at home. They will also send you home with a 4-week supply of these to inject daily with a waste disposal for the needles.


For you to be discharged you have to have a collective all clear from your consultant, surgeon and stoma nurse. Your stoma nurse has the final say and you won’t be discharged until she agrees that you are ok with your stoma and with its output and you are eating well.

I am hoping you found this informative and not to daunting.

Many Thanks
Louise aka CrohnsFighting Xx


Louise Potter

Hello everyone. My name is Louise and I am a guest blogger for talkhealth. I’m 32 years old and I am a mother to a delightful 8-year daughter, girlfriend to my boyfriend Ben. I’m also a daughter, auntie, granddaughter and friend. I am an advocate for all things crohns disease and stoma related. I have a permanent ileostomy which was formed in 11/16. This stoma wasn’t my first rodeo and I had a temporary ileostomy formed in September of 2009 to save my life due to sepsis, faecal peritonitis and pneumonia after a rather fraught C-section. This C-section left me on life support for 3 weeks and a period of 3 months in hospital where I had to learn how to walk, talk and eat again. All of this whilst having my daughter living with me in a side room as I recovered from what had happened. It also left me with a rather large open wound and my intestines being held in with biological mesh until I had my stoma reversed in 2012. This in itself lead to my second stoma formation and the decision to have it made permanent fixture to my body and life. I have penetrating refractory crohns disease and was diagnosed back in 2003 due to a fistula developing through my belly button. The above diagnosis means my crohns disease has spread to other parts of my body and has formed a rather scary amount of scar tissue and the refractory part means it is as stubborn as the owner of the body it inhabits, and I am immune to the majority of medications used to treat this illness. I am a blogger, advocate and also the founder of CrohnsFighting & The IBD & Ostomy support show which is a live video chat every Thursday evening at 8 pm on YouTube where we discuss a variety of topics that are both IBD & Stoma related. In my day to day life I am an accountant and work from home crunching numbers. The last 14 years have been filled with fun, laughter, near death experiences and 33 surgeries to both save my life and improve my quality of life. I am full of gallows humour but I am also honest and realistic about what both my illness and stoma life entails. So that’s about it for my brief introduction. Hoping you all like following posts and find them helpful. I am always about and open to ask any questions you may have and will answer to the best of my abilities Many thanks Louise aka CrohnsFighting

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