From Stillwater-Ponca City (OK) Ostomy Outlook Jan 1997:

How I Handle my Colostomy

by Pauline O'Neill, Stillwater-Ponca City (OK) UOA, Jan 1997

Editor's Note: This article is part of a continuing series of accounts by chapter members on how they manage their ostomies.

Before my colostomy I was pretty regular and most of the time I continue to be that way. I was therefore able to "graduate" to simpler appliances. I started with the two-piece ConvaTec system using a bag. Then I graduated to the mini bag and then to a stoma cover, which is just a round piece that snaps on the wafer.

Several years ago a recent colostomate who was a nurse told me she used a one-piece adhesive stoma cover and when she was at home covered her stoma with a gauze pad. All the literature told me not to be afraid to try new products and find what was best for me. So one day I got brave and tried the one-piece adhesive cover (ConvaTec). I loved it! They are probably more expensive as it only lasts one day since I irrigate every morning, but it feels so free. I decided if this was going to be for the rest of my life I wanted the easy way rather than the least expensive way! I do keep two-piece appliances on hand in case of diarrhea.

The things that upset my colostomy most are stress and lack of sleep, sometimes causing no water or stool return during irrigation. This leads to passing stool during the day and swollen feet due to water retention. The one-piece appliance can hold quite a bit of stool, but sometimes I have to change it (hopefully only once) during the day as it fills up. When my life is on an even keel I can go day after day with no stool in my stoma cover when I take it off in the mornings to irrigate.

I prefer to stay in the bathroom while irrigating. I keep a cheap metal folding chair there and sit in front of the toilet with the sleeve hanging down into it, using this time to read the newspaper from the previous evening. I found an "S" shaped plastic hook at Wal-Mart (a few years before my colostomy) and use that to hold my bag of water on the shower curtain rod behind me.

I use 1000 mL of water for irrigating. It takes about 10 minutes to drain in. I am sure to take my watch with me and wait about 25 min for all stool and water to return. I think each person may differ in length of time. I kept my hospital pitcher and have it filled with warm water; I stand and pour that into the irrigation sleeve to rinse it and to rinse off my stoma. I am able to toss the sleeve into the bathtub behind me and clean myself and apply the stoma cover. Then I spray Dow Cleaner (It disinfects) into the sleeve and run hot water through it into the tub to rinse and hang it up to drip and dry. Then I clean the tub with the same cleaner. The whole process takes about 45 minutes.

I have traveled a lot since having my colostomy and pack the "S" shaped hook with my other supplies. Nearly always I can find a place to hang the bag of water. Occasionally I find a motel room with chairs too large to go through the bathroom door. And on a European trip I went 3 weeks without irrigating because it was too much trouble. After a few days at home I was back on schedule.

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Content last revised 1997-01-12