April 9 2021
step by step, day by day, the stigma about ostomies /colostomies is taking a back-seat to the reality that life with a colostomy bag/pouch can be just as good, if not better, than life without one
Yes, so I have a colostomy bag since September 11, 2020. I did not know what it was or that people walked around with them under their shirts and in their pants. As a result of my anal tumor which is embedded in my sphincter muscle I experienced constant incontinence. So I decided to have "a bag". I actually thought the only option I had (as I also had profuse bleeding from the tumor at that point) was to remove my whole rectum but the Surgeon suggested a Diverted Colostomy.
A colostomy is a surgical procedure that brings one end of the large intestine out through the abdominal wall. During this procedure, one end of the colon is diverted through an incision in the abdominal wall to create a stoma. A stoma is the opening in the skin where a pouch for collecting feces is attached.
I have been surprised by the number of people in Canada with either colostomies or ileostomies. In 2016 it was estimated there were 90,000 people living with an ostomy – ridding their body of stool or urine by collecting the waste in a removable pouch that's emptied as necessary.
Further more, many feel embarressed about this and try hide it best they can. Many younger people are now more bold and design pretty covers for the pouches so they can just show it or go to the beach in a bikini. It saved many a life so why feel embarressed?
Yes, it was an adjustment learning to deal with the stoma and changing the bags. Even showering was scary but I am learning every day. My daughter is a great help on "change days" which are now 1 x per week. Lol, My bag is drainable and replaceable so that is a daily task but the "wafer" the bag attaches too I change 1 x per week now.
After my 3 days in North York Hospital I recovered for a few days at my sister's. Then on return home I was able to get a home nurse (Steve) to come help me with issues and changes. I had a wound care specialist from Kitchener Hospital who specialized in ostomies come twice and he was amazing in his knowledge and help choose the right products for me. I feel lucky.
The products are not cheap but I get the $975 a year ostomy grant under the "Assistive Devices Program" which covers most supplies for me but for many, who have to change more often, it's not enough.
Another not so great side-effect is that the stoma is not controlled by a sphincter, so "noise" can happen at any moment. Many people feel uncomfortable going out in public or to a restaurant because again the embarressment. I just explain, and especially when I have the bag visible most people understand.
So next time you see someone with a bulge under their shirt think OSTOMY. Help spread awareness. For my fellow ostomates out there and newbies here is a great website.
There is even info about dating and sex life because all those areas are affected of course as well.
I am grateful to still be alive and doing well after my diagnosis over 3 years ago where I was told I had 3 months to live if I did not immediately choose Chemo Radiation. I did CHOOSE some radiation in December and am grateful for the positive effects. My approach has been Integrative using options from both worlds.
If you want to chat with me check out my new website www.healthyselfhealthcare.com which has a chat function or just email me or set up a zoom call from my Book Online page.