Introduction: Overall, the picture that someone has for oneself as integrated and independent man can be put to severe test because of the compulsory dependence that the ileostomy causes.
The aim of this study was to investigate in depth the opinions and expectations of patients who have undergone ileostomy, with the ultimate goal of interpreting and better understanding of human emotions in the actual environment to which they belong, highlighting the underlying impact on self- image.
Methods: Data collection was performed by individual semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions. The sample consisted of five patients who had undergone surgery ileostomy and were selected by purposive sampling. For data analysis the qualitative methodological approach and specific initial coding «in vivo» was used, as well as thematic content analysis.
Results: Nine subcategories were created. Each of them also grouped to record six categories. Afterwards, three themes derived from these categories: a) The soul stressful situation as a specific pattern of perception of self-image, b) The preservation of identity through social support: the imaginary walls of the society towards the patient, c) The subjective feeling of lack of power and lack of attractiveness because of compulsory dependency disease. The ileostomy, permanent or temporary, except of the exhaustively physical symptoms, has serious impact on the mental and social well-being by influencing the way the person sees the change in its body image, resulting in limitations in its personal and social life.
The reaction of a patient to his/hers disease can be affected by many variables, including the way that the patient sees himself, the he/she behaves and thinks. Changes in physical appearance, function and body integrity are usually central to the long- or short-term experience of illness and care.
Key-words: Ileostomy, illness experience, quality of life, self-image, stoma complications, phenomenology-hermeneutics.