Monday, November 3, 2008

What the Ostomy is Like for Me Lately

Lately, what's confronted me is how to deal with a certain aspect of my ostomy. And it is an aspect that I have not been to thrilled to be blogging about. Gas. See, now that my large intestine finds its way out of my body on the left side of my abdomen and is no longer attached to a sphincter muscle, I no longer have the capacity to manage it at will.

Okay, so right out of the gates, we're all clear that because of the ostomy I am alive. That's no secret and I would do it all the same were I to go back in time and do it all over again. So, although I am not without gratitude, and happy to have gotten back to a somewhat normal life, I am committed to living a life as "normal" as possible and that would include life without the unmistakable sound of gas exiting my body - at an inopportune time to boot. [did i spell that properly?]

Again, it's not life ending or even a threat, but let's be honest - we have a cultural conversation in this country about not passing gas in public - or at least not loudly - unless of course you are in the company of those whom you most enjoy laughing joyfully about the sounds your bodily functions. Unfortunately, I have yet to create that relationship with every person I know and for that matter, all those I don't.

I have begun to take on certain proactive methods of dealing. Beano, for one.
[...i can't believe i am even writing about this. gas is something i either hide from others or laugh about among those i'm close with. not something i have mature conversations about. and now i'm talking about beano. how awkward!!!]
So, yes...Beano. And I am also avoiding carbonated beverages and of course any foods that can put a bottle of Beano to shame. And then there is the irrigation.

Irrigation is a daily process that is an option for some people who have ostomies on the left side of their abdomen. It's very similar to an enema - something I'm a little familiar with. The idea is to flush out the colon first thing in the morning once every day or two and eventually have your colon trained to only empty following an irrigation at that time. Then the individual gets to wear what looks like a large bandage over the stoma as opposed to a pouch, which can sometimes be a bit bulky or, without irrigation, needs to be discarded at an inconvenient time. My hope is that I will be able to effectively irrigate in the near future. Not only will it be nice to be free of pouches, etc., but I believe this will significantly help with untimely gas once I get the hang of it.

In the mean time, at least my ostomy pouches have a very effective carbon filter. Oh yes, joy, joy. So, should I be "blessed" with unexpected gas at an inopportune time, I won't have to worry about the damage being any worse then the initial shock following that ever so familiar sound.

And now that I've made that clear, I hope we can all just move on and leave this topic behind.

1 comment:

  1. Bert,

    I am impressed with your honesty - again - for those of us out here who don't know what it's like to have a colostomy, or who may someday find ourselves dealing with a loved one how has one, or even for those folks who are facing a colostomy right now, knowing the specifics (however uncomfortable it is for you to share them) is really helpful. Demystifying.

    I know it's not easy to share these specifics - I have similar discomfort when writing about the surgical construction of my replacement nipples after my mastectomy. But I think that there are people out there who need to know what it is like to go through what we have been through. So they better understand us, or other people in their lives who might be going through these cancer treatments.

    So, as difficult as it may have been for you to blog about this, I thank you for doing it.

    Maria Brown