For those that don't know an ostomy is when you have some type of issue with your intestines and so a portion is removed and the end is, for lack of a better word, poked through your abdomen. This is where you now poop.
Because of the nature of this medical procedure not many people are open to talking about it. I, however, was not raised with a filter (thanks mom) and so I'd like to explain frankly what it's like to live with an ostomy. It sucks.
Now, for people that suffer from Crohns or collitis it may be a huge relief from the debilitating gut pain that many endure. However, in my case, it was just a necessity to remove my tumor. Now I face the day to day hassle of living with a bag strapped to my belly.
The set up has 2 pieces. The first is a flange. This flange requires you to cut it to fit the size of your stoma. (Haha, it autocorrected stoma to aroma which is fairly applicable) after cutting it to fit, you apply a paste to the appliance and smooth it out. Then you carefully align the flange to your stoma and press it on. Then you remove the backing and stick the rest of it to your belly.
Then you snap a bag onto the flange. To get the best adhesion you should sit or lie down and keep pressure on it for at least 15 minutes.
Every time I leave the house I need to ensure that I have sufficient supplies to get me through however long I plan to be out. It's become habit now but there have been times where I have to leave something I'm really enjoying because I'm out of bags. The biggest hassle I've run in to is exercising with it. The sweat can cause the flange to lose adhesion and leak. I'm unable to do certain exercises because I can't lay flat on my stomach. Additionally, because a stoma is created by punching a hole through your abs it is considered a hernia. This limits the lifts I can do. Finally, if my bowels move while I'm exercising I need to stop and change my bag because the weight of a full bag can either pull
off the flange or pop off the bag. Either of which is NOT COOL. In fact it stinks (see what I did there).
Probably the most troublesome area that's been affected is sleeping. I love sleeping on my front and will flip back and forth but it's almost impossible now to sleep facing to the right. This position places my stoma flat against the mattress meaning any bowel movement could blow off the flange. Also, when rolling over I need to be exceedingly careful not to catch the bag and pull it off. I've done this a few times this year and it means laundry time at 2am.
The public awkwardness that comes with a stoma can also be brutal. The stoma does not have a controllable muscle so you can't clench up. Without warning a stoma can get active and either fill the bag or cut some of the loudest farts you've ever heard. Depending on the situation you're in this can be mortifying. People that know you are almost always awesome about it; but if you're in a meeting or on an elevator where people don't know your deal this can be unbelievably embarrassing.
This blog is not intended to be a sob story. I just want to be completely open and honest about what life entails. If you know someone in your life that has a stoma and are too afraid to ask them about it please understand what they're dealing with. It is a 24-7 job maintaining it. I am thankful to be alive as the procedure removed my source cancer, but it is not without its problems.
If you have any questions I'm an open book so please don't hesitate to contact me.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank Coloplast for sponsoring my tour. They have made having a stoma more bearable. By making the flange more flexible it is more comfortable and by using more appealing materials it's not as embarrassing when your bag sticks out under your shirt. This may seem like a small thing but it can be huge to many people.