Yesterday my ostomy decided to give me a hard time. I changed my colostomy bag the same way I always do (or at least I thought I did) but a couple hours later I felt the skin around my stoma start to sting. I knew right away what that meant; My stoma was “pancaking.” The term pancaking is new to my vocabulary. Eric from Veganostomy, made a video about “problems that can occur with your ostomy” and he talked about this issue, referring to it as “pancaking.”
Before knowing there was a technical term, I called it, “Shit not again!” Actually this time I changed it up a bit, “Shit my ostomy is pancaking!”
The number one reason ostomies pancake is because air somehow seeps out of the bag; from not having a tight seal between the wafer and the bag. Colostomy and ileostomy bags work best when some air is left inside the bag. There is something about the air that helps draw out the stool, instead of it coming out and just mashing up against the stoma. If enough stool “pancakes” around the stoma, the wafer can breach and nobody wants that, especially if your out in public. There will be poop everywhere… ok, not everywhere but at least your underwear will be messy.
A couple of months ago I was dealing cards for a charity event. My stoma thought it would be funny to pancake and since I was the card dealer I couldn’t just stop what I was doing and fix the problem. Instead I prayed that the poop was done coming out and I could fix it on my break, but my stoma had other ideas. Thirty minutes later my bag felt heavy. I knew I couldn’t wait so I excused myself, brought along my back pack that has extra supplies and headed for the ladies room.
The event was held at a golf clubhouse, so the bathrooms were pretty fancy. I found an open stall and cleaned myself up as best as I could. The bag breached so that one had to go and I put a new one on. Now I had another dilemma; do I put the dirty bag in the plastic baggie I brought and stash it in my back pack or do I leave it in the sanitary napkin box? Either way somebody wouldn’t be happy. I decided to spare the guests at my card table from the unpleasant “scent” and sacrificed those who entered the bathroom.
Three hours later, the event was over and before going home I stopped in the bathroom to wash my hands. The smell hit me as soon as I opened the door. Two women were at the sink frantically washing their hands, then quickly walked out the door. What did I do? I giggled of course; its my go-to response when I’m in an uncomfortable situation; then I thought about the poor cleaning crew that would come later; by then they might need to wear hazmat suits.
I don’t know if anyone figured out it was me and if they did, who cares? I won’t see those people again anyway.
This time the pancaking happened while I was home so I could monitor the situation and try to fix it. I found out that I forgot to securely snap the wafer and bag closed. I cleaned the bag and snapped it shut. It kept pancaking, so today I figured I had to just start over and put on a new one. I hate getting only a day out of one bag though; ostomy supplies aren’t cheap.
I have been wearing the bag for four hours now and it is working just fine… thank you for asking.
Be well and remember to always have a sense of humor when “shit happens”