Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Great Poop Explosion, or Why I Carry A Diaper Bag

This day starts out like any other day.  It is a beautiful day, sunny and warm, a great day to be outside. This is the perfect day to take the kids out for a chicken walk.  We have four different walks we take at my daycare, each covers different blocks around my neighborhood.  Every walk has different highlights, things an adult might pass by and not even notice.  One of our walks is the chicken walk. 

We almost always head down the hill from my house to start our walks.  From there, to our chicken walk, we need to make a chain by holding hands to cross the street together. We pass a wall with flowers, a place to hide and jump out to surprise our friends, the house where Charlie the dog sometimes comes over to say hello.

There is a tree stump on this walk that someone has placed beach finds: sea glass, shells, rocks and pennies.  We love to look at them and choose a favorite.  We see bugs and flowers, notice changes in neighborhood yards.  We find letters from our names on fire hydrants and for sale signs.  Every walk is a new twist on an old adventure. 

On this day, we stop to say hello to our friends, the chickens.  Daisy, Pepper, Cinnamon and Jubilee. Mrs. Walsh, the woman who owns the chickens is home today and invites us into her yard to see them up close.  We usually just watch them from the driveway next door.

We spend some time looking in their cage, and Mrs. Walsh lets us feed them oatmeal through the top of their cage.  She checks their nest to see if there are any eggs, but there aren't any yet.  She holds Cinnamon for us to pet, but we are all too afraid.  The best thing is when she poops, just missing Mrs. Walshs' shirt.

We say goodbye and march in a merry band down the street.

As we round the corner back to my house, my belly is feeling a little itchy.  I have come to know that this is a sign that it is getting to be time to change my bag.  It means the adhesive is getting loose, and I should do it soon.  This is not a problem, since the visiting nurse will be by in just a short time.

As I give my belly a little scratch, I feel something wet on my dress.  Oh, no, this can't be good. 

We make it home, and I go inside to see what has happened.  When I lift up my dress, I am horrified.  The seal of my bag is almost completely undone, and my bag is about ready to fall off.   The stool has crept through the seal, and formed a dark, stinky ring on my belly. This is just gross. 

I take the bag off, and try and figure out how I am going to remedy this.  I am running low on the sample bags I received, and have recently figured out that one of the boxes contains bags that are sized, all too big for me.  I have an order in for more bags, but they haven't come yet.  I am sure the visiting nurse will be able to help me cobble something together from what I have, and that the extra samples that Kelli from Coloplast has sent me will come in the mail at any minute.

I clean up the mess carefully, and am sure Kim, the visiting nurse, will be here any minute.  It is around the time she said she would be here.  I put a paper towel over my stoma and start going though the odds and ends I have left in my sample boxes.  If I go slowly enough, the doorbell will ring, and I will have help.

I find a wafer and a snap on ring that are about a quarter of an inch bigger than my stoma.  This would leave my skin exposed to stool, and could result in an infection.  Recently I was reviewing those infections, and I do not want to get one.  Think diaper rash on your belly, basically.  This is not a pretty sight. 

I find a ring, called a barrier ring.  This is a flexible putty ring, that your shape around your stoma to fill in gaps if you have an uneven belly.  I figure this should work if you have the wrong size bag as well.

I still don't see any sign of Kim, and I need to get lunch started. I realize I need to figure this change out myself.  After I clean and prep my belly, I take the ring out and stretch the center into the shape that will fit over and snug against my stoma.  This can go against my stoma because it is pliable and will stretch if there is any swelling.  Then I fit the wafer, the part that will adhere to my belly in the two piece pouching system I am using, and stick that over the ring and onto my belly.  Once everything is stuck on, there is a ridged ring on both the wafer and the bag, and they click together to seal.  When I am done, I am pretty proud of myself for figuring this out all by myself.  Not quite Macgyver, but as close as I'll ever come.

I am just finishing with the lunch prep when Kim comes.  Her computer had crashed and she needed to reboot it before she coming over.  She was impressed with my improvisation, and thinks I can be weaned off her visits.  This is good news!

When I had started this whole colostomy experience, it was stressed to me that I might start carrying an extra bag with me, with backup supplies.  I did as they suggested, although it all seemed like a bit much.  Now I realize how important it is to have that bag.  I am so glad I was only taking a walk around the block when this happened, and that all of my supplies were close by.  It really could have been a disaster.

The Haircut

I haven't had my haircut since last October.  I had cancelled my appointment and never made another, and sometimes, that is just how it goes.  The only days I seem to remember to call the salon are the two they are closed.  I was thinking I would try to make it through the summer and grow my hair long enough for locks of love after the first few months passed.  But, greasy hair was driving me crazy.  Since showering is such a project these days, I have more sponge baths, and less shampooing than I would like.  This is especially annoying when you wake up with night sweats just drenched, and hair that looks and feels gross in the morning.

Leslie and I have months of stuff to catch up on.  Leslie has been cutting my hair for close to twenty years, so we have been through a lot, in dribs and drabs of visits once every six to eight weeks, with occasional missed appointments that stretch for months. I am glad we have this time to catch up, and really, really happy to have my hair cut.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing this honest account of what it's like to be the patient. I've helped people learn colostomy care but there's no understanding it from the outside. We love you, hang in there.