Prepping for a Colonoscopy When You Have an Ostomy Bag

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You made an appointment to get your first colonoscopy after you got your colostomy or ileostomy bag. You got your drink mix and you are all set to go, or at least you think you are. But did you get a LARGER bag from the ostomy nurse? If you didn’t, you could be in big trouble — as in cleaning up shit off your floor because your normal size bag broke from all the junk coming out of you.

When I got my first colonoscopy after getting my ostomy bag, the nurse gave me a set of instructions on what to do the night before. There was no mention of needing a larger bag. Luckily, my obsessive, questioning thoughts came in handy this time and I researched online if I needed a bigger bag. Guess what! I did. So I immediately called my nurse and told her to get me a larger bag. Believe it or not, she gave me a hard time about it! She didn’t think I needed one. I couldn’t believe her attitude so I pulled my “Bitch” card and let her know I would be “prepping” for the big event in HER waiting room. Guess who got not one, but two larger bags?

Sometimes you have to demand things, especially from those working in the medical community. They can come off as know-it-alls. Don’t feel bad about standing up for yourself. Its your body and you will experience the consequences, no one else. In my case, I was right. The larger bag was the right size to hold all the output. When you take a laxative like the stuff you drink before a colonoscopy, you have limited time to empty the bag. The poop is runnier as time goes on and is messier to clean up. You have enough to deal with without mopping up the floor.

Get a bigger bag.

Be well!

Ingebird

 

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I’m Lovin’ My Colostomy Bag

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I have an ostomy bag.

It makes my life better.

Before that I went through adult diapers like crazy and I couldn’t keep any weight on. After the colostomy surgery I didn’t have as many bowel movements and my weight stabilized. Now I lead a pretty normal life and definitely a less stressful one! Most people who know I wear a bag attached to my abdomen are online. I don’t advertise it unless my bag “goes off” while I’m in a public place and the noise draws attention to me. That’s when I either laugh it off and say nothing, or give a quick lesson on the benefits of an ostomy. I’ve never had anyone say anything derogatory about my bag to my face and frankly even if someone did, I would shrug it off –because I do not care what anyone thinks about my bag or me for that matter. I like myself just the way I am and I’m grateful to be alive. That’s all that matters.

The reason I decided to write this post is because a fellow ostomate was deeply offended by a remark (actually it was a dumb joke) made by someone (who does not have an ostomy)  about having a colostomy bag. (Whew! Trying to write that last sentence and make it make sense, got me all tangled up in my own underwear!)The funny thing is, this person who got offended is a writer and believes in “free speech” in general, but apparently joking about colostomy bags is over the line. In other words, free speech is good unless you are the target of that speech.

I also believe in free speech and that means speech I may not agree with. Someone can make fun of colostomy bags all day long and my response is, “Who cares?” I will admit years ago I said I wanted shoes to my match my colostomy bag (as in handbag. Get it? Your shoes should always match your bag). Back then, I didn’t know what a colostomy bag was. I was ignorant and you can bet I never dreamed I’d actually have one–but I do. Maybe it was a law of attraction thing. Who knows? I don’t, but I do know this bag is a permanent part of my life and I’m glad to have it. Before the bag, I’d freak out if I had to poop and was in the middle of heavy freeway traffic. Now it comes without warning but at least its emptying into that bag. Of course as soon as I can, I empty it in a public toilet but I’ll save that story for another time.

This blogger also told story about a woman (with an ostomy) who was at a bar talking to a guy who seemed to “like” her, so she decided to be upfront about her appliance. His reaction was childish to say the least and she was devastated. If she told me what happened in that bar, I would have said, “First of all, you’re in a bar. How many people find their one true love when their all liquored up? Second, your ostomy is none of his business or anyone else’s, but if you choose to share this information be ready for whatever response comes up. You cannot control other people’s behavior but you can control yours. You don’t have to feel victimized either. Why do you give a shit what some drunk guy thinks?”

Eleanor Roosevelt said (I’m paraphrasing) “No one makes you feel bad without your permission.” She should know, her mother was a real bitch to Eleanor when she was a kid.

People say stupid shit all day long. Just turn on cable news for a minute and you’ll see what I mean. I say stupid shit. You say stupid shit. We all do, but hopefully we learn to stop saying it out loud so much. I think it’s a human flaw. We also need to stop being so offended. Whatever that person said that ticked you off, has nothing to do about them, it has everything to do about you and how you see yourself. No one is perfect. We all have secrets we think would be the end of the world if someone found out. I have news for you; it won’t. In the grand scheme of things no one cares or if they do, it will be only for a minute, until there is someone else they can gossip about or judge.

As for that woman in the bar, she will eventually meet someone who will fall in love with her, ostomy and all and until then I suggest she work on her boosting self esteem because confidence is sexy. She would be surprised to find out how many of us are walking around with bags hidden under our clothing.

Life is too short to get worked up about bullshit. Instead of being offended about petty shit, go out and have fun!

Be well and LOVE yourself 100%

Ingebird

J Pouches, Ileostomy Bags, Colostomy Bags and Diarrhea

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Sometimes I get questions from cancer patients who have a J Pouch; usually with the same problem— diarrhea. I don’t have a J Pouch. I have a colostomy bag, which is different than an ileostomy bag. The main difference is, my stool exits from the large intestine and the ileostomy via the small intestine. Both ostomates poop into a bag located outside our abdomen.The J Pouch is internal and is made from the patients small intestine and attached to the anus. They can also hold the poop in via their sphincter muscles when they have to go, just like before when they had a rectum/colon.

Ostomates can’t hold it because the intestine doesn’t have a muscle. Most of the time I don’t know I’m pooping but it doesn’t matter since I’m “going” directly into a bag that will be emptied as soon as I can. Most patients who go for the J Pouch, like the idea of pooping the “normal” way. I think its a matter of cosmetics, but they seem to have more problems than ostomates.

From what I understand, patients with J Pouches and ileostomies need to drink more water. They become dehydrated quickly, even if it isn’t hot outside. I drink extra water too but not as much as them.

I think diarrhea  happens to the best of us, even someone who poops the old way(through his or her tushy). What it comes down to is finding out what foods trigger the event. Since we are all unique individuals, foods that give me diarrhea or “gas” for that matter, might not affect you. Its trial and error.

I suggest keeping a food diary. Its the best way to find out what’s going on. You can also eat one or two kinds of food for a couple of weeks and then add new foods slowly. That way you can find out what foods upset your GI system.

I’ve done it to see if I was allergic or sensitive to a particular food. That’s how I found out gluten is not my friend so I eat sprouted bread instead and I limit how many slices I eat. Before that I could eat an entire baguette smeared wit butter. Some cruciferous foods and garlic (for sure) give me gas, but I can live with that, although my family might not agree.

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I found a website that gives advice to people with J Pouches, who have diarrhea issues that you may find helpful. I think its good advice for anyone with an ostomate as well.

Be well,

Inge