If you are reading this and are confused about what a Stoma is. Click on this link to see a picture. WARNING, it is graphic. This is NOT my stoma, but a link to a blog of a brave individual who blogs about his JPouch surgery experience as well. I am not brave enough to photograph mine yet and put it on here. Maybe some day I will. I have even thought about maybe doing an instructional video someday....we will see. I will have to get really brave! I am really proud to say I have come very far with this whole process. When I first got home I could not look at myself in the mirror. I would cry holding a pillow over my face, and my husband had to empty it and change it for me while I layed on the bed because I couldn't do it. My skin was also breaking down around the stoma. It was just completely raw because we couldn't get it to fit properly. I was in a tremendous amount of pain and it took us almost an hour to get it applied properly. Now I am happy to say I can change it myself looking in the bathroom mirror in 5 minutes flat with little to no discomfort. I can look at it and it doesn't bother me anymore. It doesn't define who I am. I just realize that I am still ME, the only difference is how I go to the bathroom. Now that I am not in pain I am enjoying my life again with my family.
Bags, pouches, appliances....whatever you choose to call them, come in many shapes and sizes. The trick is to find the right one for you and your skin type. People with an ileostomy need to wear a bag on a full time basis. This is because you cannot control when the stoma (small part of the small intestine sticking outside of the body) is going to work - in fact it will probably work 95% of the time! It is therefore, essential that you find an appliance system which suits both your skin type and your lifestyle.
You will have the choice of either a one- or a two-piece system. There is no better system - it is simply a matter of what you prefer. Both types are drainable, meaning that you can undo the tie or clip at the bottom of the pouch and empty it as needed.
A One-Piece System
A one-piece system is just that - one-piece. It means that the wafer (the part that attaches the bag to your skin) and the bag itself, are all in one and cannot be pulled apart. You just stick the opening over your stoma. You have to make sure you correctly measure your stoma and the bag opening so they match. You will change the whole appliance about once or twice a week.
- convex moldable wafer
- Eakin seal
- scissors (to cut the eakin seal)
- adhesive remover wipe
- skin protectant barrier wipe
- Rags-one dry, one wet
- Stomahesive protective powder
- pouch with filter
- gauze (to put over the stoma just in case it gets active!)
- Step 1: While I lay everything out, open packages etc., I eat 4-5 small handfulls of marshmallows. They work amazingly well at slowing down the stoma!!! The stoma is constantly active, so eating these slows everything down and gives me a good 5-10 minutes without anything coming out. I also have to find the right time of day to change my appliance. What works for me is about 5pm (after work & before dinner). This seems to be when my stoma is least active. For some people it may be in the morning when they wake up. You just have to find the best time for you. After I eat my marshmallows, I close them up and put them away and get ready to begin.
- Step 2: I place the dry rag in the waist band of my pants. It protects my pants from getting dirty, but also works as a handy "towel rack" so I can have it there when I need to wipe something away.
- Step 4: After the bag/wafer is removed, I use the wet towel to wipe around my stoma. I clean off any adhesive remover and try to remove any old wafer residue. I inspect my skin around the stoma to make sure it is not raw or irritated. I make sure my stomach is clean and ready for the new wafer. Use water ONLY. Soaps can cause the new wafer to not stick. I throw the old bag/wafer in a plastic grocery bag, tie it up and throw it out. By now those marshmallows are working great! *My skin used to be AWFUL. It was raw and bleeding. This was because I did not have a good seal around my stoma. The stool that comes out of the stoma is very acidic and will burn your skin. That is why it is so important to get a good seal. If any stool leaks under the wafer, the skin will become severely irritated. If it is burning, the wafer needs to be changed. It means there is a leak.
- Step 5: Stomahesive powder. This stuff is a lifesaver. After my skin is cleaned with the rag. I pour this stuff all around my stoma. It will stick to any raw, weepy skin and create a healing "scab." The powder really heals and helps protect the irritated skin. I really pour this stuff on and then pat it into the skin. This is where that towel tucked in your pants waistband comes in handy. I use the towel to gently brush away any excess.
|Filter on bag|
- Yes, it is a long process. It used to take us an hour, then it would leak. I would be in pain and crying from frustration. One night we had to change it twice and I was an enotional wreck. But it DOES get easier over time. Now I can do it easily all by myself. My skin around my stoma looks great and I can move on with my life pain free. This has brought me so much confidence. I have realized that if for some reason in the future, If I ever had problems with my JPouch and had to go back to this, it would be ok. It's not pleasant, but it does not define me. It's just part of life now. I have a great life and I am excited to live it. This will not get in my way!