Someone Should Have Warned Me
*(This story was written by my mother. Good job Mom! Thank you for sharing your experience on my page and with all the Medium readers. I love you and I’m so proud of you. You’re amazing and so, so brave.)
Those dreaded words, “you have cancer”. Less than a week later, a port is installed for chemotherapy and a colostomy is performed. I knew there would be a bag connected to my stomach. What I didn’t realize was my intestines would be pulled up through my muscles and basically I had no strength to lift my body in order to sit up. I hear this is similar to a women giving birth by cesarean section. I had to build up my interior muscles in order to get up to use the bathroom.
The home nurse came to help with hooking up colostomy bags for the first few weeks. Both this nurse and the hospital nurse insisted on keeping the bag attached for three days. Leaving adhesive-attached flange on your skin causes irritation and possible blistering. I remove this bag every morning prior to showering, and as needed. A baby’s diaper is changed after a bowel movement, so why should an adult carry around a bag which can weigh a few pounds? They make two-part bags where you can remove the actual bag and keep the attached skin barrier flange covering your stoma. Then you can pop a new bag onto this. This is disgusting as the seal attached to your body has feces on it. Oh, and the smell is so nasty. You want to wear a mask when changing your bag. Another option is to wear drainable one piece bags. This way you can keep the bag secured for up to three days. You have the option to drain your bowels as they happen. Really? You are supposed to roll down the opening at the bottom of the bag and drain your poop! Be sure to wear gloves.
My personal preference are the one piece bags. Although they are extremely long since they are made for draining, there is a slim chance of leakage around the stoma area. If a two piece bag is not snapped correctly to the flange, a smelly seepage may occur. However, the bags on these two piece catch-alls2 are shorter and easier to hide under a shirt. Since I choose never to drain a bag, I secure the bottom drain spout with clear tape.
Let’s talk about tape. There are so many different medical adhesive tapes one can choose…