IF it is determined that a colostomy is recommend by your medical team, do not despair.
Negative stereotypes of ostomies abound: Portraying people walking around with full “bags” of fecal matter attached to their abdomens; reserved only to the aged and elderly; wearing unsightly “bags” that dangle past one’s knees; “bags” that make embarrassing noises rustle and crinkle; problems with leaking and putrid smells. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Few people realize that ostomies are life saving procedures that span every age group, including infants, children, adolescents, young adults and onward. People with inflammatory bowel disease (Chron’s and ulcerative colitis) may opt for a permanent ileostomy for quality of life reasons and when/if available medications and biologics fail to tame severe inflammation. People who suffer pelvic injuries in an automobile accident or a gunshot wound may have need for an ostomy. Infants with hereditary-based slow intestinal motility may have need for placement of an ostomy. Other people with dysfunction of pelvic floor muscles/coordination and problematic constipation may opt for an elective ostomy. The point being: Placement of an ostomy saves lives of people of all ages and across a broad spectrum of underlying causes.
The array of ostomy products available today reflects advanced design and comfort. There are, literally, hundreds of ostomy products available to choose from. The water of an ostomy adheres to the skin by virtue of the body’s natural warmth that reacts to the hydrocolloid matrix. The bond of a wafer correctly applied is 100% waterproof and air-tight. While leaks do occur, they are more an exception than the rule. Pouches come in different sizes - everything from a 5 inch mini-pouch to a 16 maxi-pouch.
I wear the Coloplast Mio. Its wafer has elastic polymers embedded in the hydrocolloid matrix, producing a low profile and pliable wafer that moves as the body moves. Practicing yoga is no problem. Most days, I rarely even notice my ostomy.
Those with a colostomy have the option of using single-use closed-ended pouches. Closed-ended pouches provide a hassle free option for fecal management. After a bowel movement, simply remove the pouch, place the sealed pouch in a plastic Ziplock bag or similar, and toss into the trash. Easy peezy.
For many colostomates, their bowel frequency and timing remains the same/similar to pre-surgery. Ex. A person who had a bowel movement once a day in the morning may find that this same bowel pattern continues post surgery. This makes using the closed-ended pouch a desirable option. After the bowel movement, take off the used pouch, seal the pouch and place in a plastic bag and place in the trash, and place a new/clean pouch for the day. Irrigation is also an option for those with a colostomy. Irrigation provides for an option to go pouch-free or use of a stoma cap.
I have had a permanent ileostomy for about 7 years. My stoma resides on my abdomen and looks like a small flower bud. It is not unsightly nor gross to look at. Changing my ostomy pouch has become as routine as brushing my teeth. I take a “naked” shower (no pouch on) and it feels refreshing to have water run over the stoma. I am a small/petite person and wear a small 5” ostomy pouch. It is low-profile and lies flat against my abdomen. No one would know that I have an ostomy unless I told them.
Having an ostomy is not all rainbows and unicorns. There is a period of unsettled emotions for almost everyone with a new ostomy. Adapting and adjusting is a process. Finding the best ostomy pouching system for each person takes time, experimenting with different products and brands available.
The United Ostomy Association of America (UOAA) offers an online support forum that is similar to this colon cancer forum. The UOAA forum was a life-line to me during the early post-operative week’s with my ileostomy. People helping people. Do not hesitate to visit the UOAA support forum and read/browse through the threads or pose a question to the group. The forum is empathetic and caring and able to answer almost any question related to ostomy care. http://www.uoaa.org
Sending you positive karma and healing energy,
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.