Who Farted?

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My colon is intact but cancer destroyed my sphincter muscles, which means I could either wear adult diapers the rest of my life or get a colostomy bag.  For me it was a no brainer– I went with the bag.  The bag I use comes in two parts:  A wafer which looks like a large Band-Aid with a hole in the middle (so the stoma can poke through) is attached to my skin. The bag (also called a pouch) is attached to the wafer which catches whatever comes out of me. The whole thing covers my stoma (a part of my intestine, which pokes out about an inch outside of my abdomen). The stoma looks like raspberry.

The pouch is made from material similar to a rubber glove or balloon. When my stool comes out from the stoma it flows directly into the bag. The bag works best if there is always a small amount of air inside, which brings me to the subject of “farts.”

Did you know that every single creature on the planet farts… even termites? In fact according to The Fart Facts website (yes it exists. Look it up if you don’t believe me) they come in “number one” as being the gassiest of all creatures! You’re probably thinking where is she going with this? What does colostomy bags have to do with farts?

Plenty!

Like I mentioned earlier, cancer destroyed my sphincter muscles;  a group of important, ring shaped muscles located at the entrance of my bum and their job is to keep “everything” inside until I’m ready to release the contents — including farts.

You know what that’s like; we’ve all been there. You feel a fart coming on and you’re in a public place or on a date and the last thing you want is to let out a loud fart (unless you’re with teenage boys. Then it becomes a competition); so the first thing you do is squeeze those muscles tightly until the urge passes. If your sphincter muscles are broken, there’s nothing to squeeze.

The first time I found out mine were kaput was at the deli counter at a Sprouts grocery store. I was with James, my son and I had just got out of the hospital after my rear end had been cauterised to stop the bleeding from the tumor that grew there. Three people were in line ahead of us when I felt the “urge.” I squeezed my cheeks together and nothing happened! Luckily it was a silent fart– but you know how those go. I stood there hoping for the best until James looked at me and said, “Mom. Is that you?”

l couldn’t speak. All I could do was laugh.  A few seconds later, the people in front of us started looking around.They appeared to be in distress, which made James and I laugh harder. They had to know that toxic odor was coming from me. It didn’t take long before the only ones left was me, James and the poor deli clerk who looked like she was going to faint. She quickly filled our order and I pretended I didn’t know anything was wrong.

A few months later I got the bag and thought my farting problems was over because now everything went through my stoma. It turns out, stomas don’t have muscles to hold in unwanted odors or noises either.

A couple of years ago I was at a lecture, sitting five rows back from the stage.  About fifteen minutes into the lecture, my stoma thought it would be funny to “cut loose.” All of a sudden, what sounded like gun fire erupted from my bag. Two women sitting in front of me turned around and stared at me. The woman sitting next to me smirked. I sat there looking confused, blinking my eyes (and trying not to laugh) hoping they would think the noise didn’t come from me. A minute later my bag sounded like fireworks. This time there was no way to deny the explosions weren’t coming from me. One of the women in front of me turned around again and said, “How rude!” The woman sitting next to me busted out laughing which made me laugh. Unfortunately the guy on stage heard us and angrily asked, “Would you ladies like to let everyone in on the joke?”  I waved my hand no and kept giggling. Luckily my stoma remained quiet for the rest of the evening.

I named my bag “Whoopie” since it sounds like a Whoopie Cushion. Years ago I bought one with the sole purpose of placing it under chair cushions and waited for an unsuspecting person to sit on it.

Now the jokes on me.

Actually, my bag is worth any “perceived” problems. I always had a wicked sense of humor so farting ain’t no big deal and I raised a son who thought farting was a sport, especially when he was with his friends.

Be well!

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

How to Track Your Nutrient Intake

This post is written for ostomates, but the information is useful to anyone wanting to live a healthier life, aka: stop eating junk food.

First of all, if you stumbled on to this post, you might not know what an ostomate is, so I’ll give you the short version: Its a person (like me) who poops into a colostomy or ileostomy bag, via the intestine which sticks out the abdomen (called a stoma). We have different reasons as to why we now use a bag instead of pooping the original way: IBD, Crohns Disease, colon cancer, a terrible accident. This is what my stoma looks like:

ostomy

You’re looking at a “wafer.” It the part of the ostomy “appliance” that the bag snaps on to. You can buy a one-piece but the two-piece works better for me.

My online buddy, Eric who is an ostomate put together this information, which I will pass along to you, via this link.

Now, go forth and eat foods that are nutrient rich!

Inge