Editor's note: This material was presented during our January 20, 1997 chapter meeting in Ponca City.
First, just a bit of history as to why I have a colostomy:
After having both ovaries removed in 1967 because of a disease, I was on a regimen of the hormone Premarin (estrogen), which resulted in cancer of the uterus in 1983. After radium implants and 20 hours of outside radium treatments, I had a complete hysterectomy in June. By December I began having problems with the descending colon. This resulted in its complete removal in January 1984. At that time I was given a transverse colostomy with the possibility of reversal in a few months. Within 3 months I had to have 6 inches of my left ureter removed because of more radiation damage. By the time I had recovered from that surgery it was too late to reverse my colostomy, so the surgeon gave me a permanent left-of-center colostomy. This added a few more inches than the transverse, and it is easier to care for.
I was fortunate to have had an excellent ostomy nurse (ET) who worked with me to find the best type of supplies for my lifestyle and type of colostomy. This took a lot of the guesswork and the trial-and-error out of the whole situation.
I use Hollister products. The size hasn't changed but some of the technology has. I have tried other products; some just recently, but I still like the way the Hollister products fit and last.
I have irritable bowel syndrome and I still have some pain and other problems, so I need to irrigate each day to try to regulate this. I used to set aside an hour each morning, but now I've changed to evening and this is fitting into my life much better. Since we have only one bathroom, we have to cooperate or it just won't work. It takes a good hour from beginning to finishing clean-up.
For traveling, I have tried to streamline my preparation and needs. I take a belt to hang over the shower rod to hold my irrigation bag, since it needs to be no higher than my shoulder while sitting. I use a two-piece product, so I just remove the old pouch, set it aside for cleaning later, snap on the irrigation sleeve, sit on the stool, and let the sleeve dangle into the stool. This works since my ostomy is just left of center. It takes about four or five minutes for about a liter of water to flow in. Then I relax with a good book or magazine while the water and feces return. After about 45 more minutes I unsnap the sleeve, let it drop into the stool, clean the face of the flange, and snap on a clean pouch prepared ahead of time. I used to use a new pouch each week, but now I have 3 pouches in use: one just used before irrigation, one cleaned and ready for use after irrigation, and one as back-up in case something goes wrong. The pouches used to develop pin-holes and cause embarrassing odors, but they last longer now.
I clean up with Lysol deodorizing cleaner and if the bag begins to show darkening or mildew, I clean it with bleach and rinse thoroughly. One bag will last for years. I've only had four bags in 13 years.
When it's time to change appliances (about one week), I like to do it when I shower. It must be several hours before irrigation or the adhesion could be ruined. I remove the flange by gently pulling the skin loose from the tape and then peeling it the rest of the way. I don't use adhesive remover since it is hard on my skin. I wash gently with soap and water in the shower. After drying, I use Skin Prep, a small amount of Premium paste right against the stoma, and then apply the flange: After cutting it to the desired size, press to adhere pectin ring, then remove paper from tape, half at a time, and apply tape to skin. Press on a new pouch and clean up.
The only problem I have ever had with my skin was some irritation right at first, and now if I wait too long to change to a new appliance.
I use regular warm tap water for irrigation even though I drink spring water. This is all right I think, but the rule of thumb is not to put anything into the stoma that you wouldn't put in your mouth.