I would hate to see someone avoid surgery solely due to what may be ill-perceived perceptions of life with an ostomy.
I will reiterate . . . my ostomy is simply no big deal. In fact, I actually am rather fond of my little stoma. And I am very fond of the fact that I survived an horrific intestinal perforation (literally an unzipping of my intestine) where I was give a 5% chance of recovery. I survived. And I have accomplished much in the 4 years since my ostomy surgery that has had meaning and purpose.
For those with the option of a colostomy, know that the day-to-day care of a colostomy is much easier/simplified than the day-to-day care of a temporary loop ileostomy.
A loop ilesotomy is positioned high along the length of the small intestine, meaning that the fecal output is highly liquid in nature with a high degree of caustic digestive enzymes. Pouching is more onerous, oft requiring placement of an adaptic ring to prevent undermining leaks of the wafer. The pouch requires more frequent emptying, on average 6-8 times a day.
A colostomy is generally placed at the distal end of the sigmoid colon, forming what is called a Hartman's pouch. The fecal output is more formed and semi-solid. Pouching is less complex as the fecal output is less liquid in nature with a lower concentration of digestive enzymes. Colostomates have the option of using a closed-ended pouching system as well as a drainable pouching system. A closed-ended pouching system enables the individual to simply take off the pouch when 1/2 to 1/3 full, seal the wafer edges, place the contained pouch in a plastic bag or doggy poop bag, and dispose of in the trash. It is as simple as pealing off the back of a pouching wafer and slapping the one-piece pouch on the skin. Easy-peezy. And you are good to go and get on with you day.
My stoma looks like a small rose bud on my skin. It is about 3/4 inch in diameter and flush with my skin. There is no "ick" factor in looking at the stoma. My stoma is not repulsive to look at.
I adapted fairly easily to my stoma. But I will admit that I have struggled with health challenges for the past 20 years, so the laparotomy and stoma and extensive hospital stay were but one additional hurdle in a life of hurdles.
I experienced a near-death experience in the immediate aftermath of my intestinal perforation. I was neither here on earth nor in Heaven . . . but somewhere in the in-between. I am not an overly religious person and would describe myself more as respective of many faiths with a strong personal spirituality. The near death experience was a life-defining experience for me. There is not a day that I do not reflect on my interaction with God/Higher Power and the directives given to me in returning to earth. I can tell you that I did not make the decision to return to earth. That decision was made for me by God/Higher Power. I would have just as well have preferred to stay in Heaven. The milieu was immensely comforting. I had no physical body, so I had no pain. I was enveloped by a energy source, which I came to identify as God/Higher Power. I felt immensely comforted and safe. While there were no words spoken between us, there was an immense change of energy. I was given three directives in returning to earth, assignments to guide me in my life after the near death experience. I offer this as a personal experience to provide comfort and reassurance to anyone who is facing a life-threatening health situation.
Life really is a personal journey. My frail health and innumerable challenges have solidified in me the importance of family and close friends and the relationships that we hold in life. For me, the genuine bond with animals/pets. The need to live a life being of caring and sensitivity and being genuine to oneself. A life lived with no regrets.
Whatever your decision, do not let your decision be detoured by fear of an ostomy and stoma. There is a quality life with a
Feel free to visit the United Ostomy Association of America home page and support forum. The UOAA was a life-line of care and comfort to me in my early weeks and months of recovery. http://www.ostomy.org
- Karen -
Dear friend to Bella Piazza, former Colon Club member (NWGirl).
I have a permanent ileostomy and offer advice on living with an ostomy - in loving remembrance of Bella
I am on Palliative Care for broad endocrine failure + Addison's disease + osteonecrosis of both hips/jaw + immunosuppression. I live a simple life due to frail health.