By: Karin Camposagrado

Ever feel like you’re being pulled in every direction, and you’re about to snap like a rubber band that’s been sitting in the sun? I try to avoid feeling like that, but as a person with chronic illness, an ostomy, work, a social life, and a family, sometimes it’s a challenge.

Prioritizing my needs as I juggle all the aspects of my life is a necessity. It’s not an option. It’s not selfish. It’s what needs to happen in order for all of those other aspects to run well.

One of the most in-my-face things I have to prioritize for myself is my ostomy management. In the same way that my husband makes time to poop when he needs to poop (regularly), I have to make time to change my ostomy pouch.  I try to be strategic about timing my pouch changes and am fortunate that I can schedule them for the most part.  

Some of the ways I’ve found that help me prioritize my ostomy management are:

  1. Making sure that I have my ostomy supplies organized and easy to grab and go when it’s time for me to do my pouch change.

2. Noticing when I tend to have windows of time that my ostomy is quieter, and how different foods affect that window, so I can better plan my pouch changes and food consumption to match up with my plans for the day.

3. Communicating with my family ahead of time to let them know I need to do a pouch change on a certain day so that they can be supportive of me needing to step away when I have my window.

I do find that as life has gotten busier, I’ve gotten a little bit less diligent about changing my pouch proactively. I’ve definitely been pushing the limits more lately, and I am fortunate to have a family that supports me without question when I make it clear that changing my pouch is a priority on a certain day.

Encouraging my family to prioritize their needs, and communicating my needs as well, has been key to making sure that I am making time for what I need.

Exercise is important to everyone’s mental and physical health, so I encourage my husband to hit the gym after work and, because time is limited, I meet friends for a walk far more often than I meet them for coffee. Two birds, one stone.

Energy is my nemesis. I’m not fun to be around when I’m not well slept and my family knows this really well. They recognize that helping me make sure I get a good night of sleep and a nap when I need it is in all of our best interest.

Prioritizing my needs with my family’s needs is not always easy. With competing priorities, interests, and plans, we have to work together to make sure that everyone’s needs are met. I am so fortunate to have so much support helping me prioritize my needs, and I know that it all stems from me being able to communicate my needs clearly, and reciprocating that support.

How do you prioritize your needs with your family’s needs?