Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Kids Say the Darndest Things…About Stomas

Raise your hand if you have kids in your life? Whether they’re your own, they’re your niece or nephew, or you’re just an honorary aunt or uncle. Now raise your hand if you have a stoma. And raise your hand again if you’ve found it challenging trying to explain and/or take care of those kids with the stoma. My guess is, since you’re reading this article, you’ve raised your hand to all of the above. Now, I’m not a parent, but I am an aunt and honorary aunt to (and not exaggerating) about 26 wonderful kids. (The people I know tend to repopulate like bunnies) But with all those kids comes some interesting moments and conversations when it comes to my stoma. And I’m guessing you can relate. So, here’s a few things that I do to both kid proof my stoma and to explain it to them in a way that’s fun and doesn’t gross them out to badly. 


Let’s tackle the most important one first. Kid proofing. As anyone who’s played or rolled around in grass with a kid knows that sometime those little fists and feet fly in all directions without much warning as to where they’re going to land. So, it’s important to be prepared. And I do that in several ways. One, I make sure that my pouch is fully secured. Sometimes I do this by wearing a band or belt wrapped around the stoma. Or sometimes I simply use athletic tape. But, either way, that sucker is stuck on me like the cheerio my nephew glued to his nose. I also never go anywhere with athletic tape. I keep it in my purse, car, gym bag, etc. Because you never know when your sister might call to come and grab the kids so she can get a few minutes of “me time”. It’s important to always be prepared. 


Another good aspect to kid proofing is make sure before you go over to where all the children are, you empty your pouch. There’s nothing like a kid running in for a hug and hitting you right where it counts, and I’m not talking down there. And I would definitely make sure you’re keeping it empty as often as you can, without being that weirdo who’s always disappearing to the bathroom. Cause like adults, kids talk. 


Once you got the kid proofing covered, it may be good to have a backstory as to why you’re packing a pouch on your abdomen. Mine actually has turned into a fun little game with the kids. The first time they saw it, I told them that I used to be a snowgirl before a magical princess turned me into a real girl. But, if it gets to hot, I can still melt, so the bag helps catch all my magical water. (Obviously they know I’m not really a snowgirl.) And that has kept the questions at bay and has given hours of devotion to making sure auntie stays as cold as possible. This actually works out great in the summer because you basically got your own hoard of little fans. (Pun intended). 


Whether or not you have just one kid or 50 kids in your life, you shouldn’t have to stop living it to the fullest with them just because of your stoma. It’s not always easy, but it’s so worth the extra effort. Just make sure you got your ducks in a row otherwise you’ll be the goose. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

3 pointers and Stomas

How to play basketball with an ostomy.  That is a phrase you don't hear often, but It really makes me happy when the question arises. Being a part of the midwest implants a few things on your life.  One you will love the color green, know the smell or corn by heart, and also be a die hard basketball fan.  No matter what you can't get away from the sport and most of us are raised with the intention of all being NBA or WNBA players. 

  That is a truly hilarious thought and it sounds funny writing it, but it's true.  Now when you find out you have a stoma or a high schooler with basketball ambitions finds out they can be initially crushed.  I like to let them know that I hoop it up on the weekends and still do just fine.

Now the art of playing basketball is something that is diminishable and I try to stay up on my game.  Having a stoma means that I have to have some gear to go along with me on the court.  I first struggled with giant bags and didn't know if I was going to be able to keep up my hobby. But I ended up calling around and talked with customer service agents at a few companies that helped. I landed on ConvaTec Ostomy Supplies and they were pretty darn helpful.  They laid out the movement and gear that would probably work for me.  ConvaTec Ostomy Supplies also let me try out the stuff they suggested for free. You had better believe that helped instill some loyalty in me.  I was elated to try out new gear while playing basketball in my driveway.  It helped build up confidence that I could go out and play in public and not worry about leaks or smells.

Yes we all smell while playing basketball but no one wants to post up and guard the guy that literally smells of poo. And to be honest no one wants to be that guy either.  So being able to talk out my issues with people was really great.  Being able to try them out was good too.  I got lots of advice about belts, the right sized bag and wicking clothes that could help with what I was doing.  Being that active takes its toll on you and it is important to be geared up right.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Mountain Biking with a Stoma

Yes, you can indeed be a adventure mountain biker if you have a stoma.  Just because you had an Ostomy doesn't mean that life is over. As a matter of fact, life just goes on and doesn't really change that much for me. Instead of slowing down after I recovered I went the opposite route and sped up into doing extreme sports.  I do consider mountain biking ot be a bit extreme. Now granted I live in the midwest and that means that my mountains are not like Colorado. ALthough I have been out there and boy that is insanely fun. So how did having a ostomy work with biking in rough conditions?  It was a bit hard to start.

The first thing that helped me was having the right gear.  Mountain biking brings out a lot of sweat, and lots of jumps and jolts. It causes a lot of leg and abdominal strain too.  So I had trouble with seals and bags working well to start with. I was eventually led to call ostomy store for supplies by a online tutorial and start asking questions.  I finally got the courage up to call and I am glad I did.  They didn't sell me like I thought they would. Instead I had a great conversation with someone that gave me test products instead. It was a no worries sort of exchange and I more than appreciated it. 

When the products arrived I tested them out and biked around my neighborhood. Not everything worked for me but I found a better bag and belt system. It gave me confidence to do a trail and start having some fun again.  I got all strapped up and hit the local trail which is actually in the middle of town.  I skipped the jumps the first few times, but really got comfortable with my body and the bike going up and down. So I was able to get back to finally doing what I loved and take it up a notch as time moved on. This was a big boost to my life and quality of it. It doesn't seem like much but when you are sitting in surgery thinking all that is good is about to end it sure it nice to get that rush of joy from the trail.

So get out there and have fun.  Be active and don't shy away from asking questions and getting help.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How do you learn about stoma bags?

The season is changing and in 2021 I am glad for it.  I truly enjoy the thought of being around people and getting outside more this year. It is also going to be a big year for me to do something I love doing all across the nation.  I am talking about the ladder to my tree stand for deer season and I am planning on climbing ladders all across the country..  Yes, I am happily able to climb it with my ostomy bag in tow.  I enjoy hunting and rather people think it is crazy or not it is awesome. That is because it is my favorite thing to do and I have made sure that my stoma never gets in the way during this time.  No way I was going to give it up because of my stoma.  I did really fear it though for a long time.

Now, what do I do to prepare for such a physical feet?  I train long and hard for it.  Training also goes for the mind.  Well, the first area that should come to mind to a good woodsman is the scent.  It was the first thing that worried me when I found out that I was going into surgery.  I knew that I would be carrying my own waste on my side for the rest of my life.  To me, it meant that I would smell more than I did before and since my favorite sport involves me being scentless it worried me.  But luckily there are several ways to lower your scent with an ostomy bag.  Many bags not only are scent blockers but also you can add drops of scent-killing chemicals into the bag to eliminate odors.  Pills are another option and there are a few sprays as well. So take heart there are many options available.

I still think that what you wear matters most.  I am a big fan of scent-blocking clothes.  I honestly love that I can sit in my tree stand all day and not have to worry about bathroom breaks.  It is a great addition to hunting in my opinion and with my scent lock clothing,it helps me to get rid of that hard part of smell that hurts so many hunters.

Now being in good shape does matter.  It is a huge deal to be in good shape and is harder to do with a stoma.  This means being careful to grow your muscles and body safe.  You have a stoma and are more prone to hernias now so you need to be careful not to overdo it.  But my sport is very physical, it involves climbing, hiking for miles, and carrying heavy animals or loads.  This means that training to be in shape is important and needs to be considered long ahead of time.   Depending on where you live you may need to have the strength to drag your deer for up to a mile.  Or simply be able to carry that much weight for that distance.  This is a huge consideration and should be trained for.  I suggest taking months out ahead of time to get your body ready. Not everyone will do this, but to be safe and to help ensure you don't injure yourself or others, I think it is wise.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Making Love with a ostomy

I know that getting the news that you are going to have a stoma is not fun for many people.  So many people hate it but some understand that it may save their life and are actually glad in a way.  But let's just be honest. During the first stages and months of having surgery and getting a stoma lots of fears creep into your life.  One of the fears that strike many people the hardest is the idea of intimacy.  I have to admit it was one of the areas that worried me the most.  The thought of not being able to be intimate again and feel that confidence was a really hard thing for me to get over.  But I want to let you know that for the most part that intimacy with your partner is possible and there are lots of tips and guides to get you in and our of a good situation that is nothing but positive.

Feeling comfortable in your own skin is key.  This is not easy for most.   I was most afraid I would look ridiculous and simply not feel sexy.  Luckily I was under the impression that I would be wearing a full-sized bag during the whole process and that was just silly.  Hey, we all have fears and they all manifest a little differently.  When it comes to fears there certainly are a few more fears than just looks too.  I was terrified of smells and simply just feeling gross during the whole ordeal.  Well, there are so many products that are meant to do the dead so to speak and I have to admit I was impressed with the ostomy gear available. Yes, it does feel like you are the only one who has struggled with this thought when you first get a stoma.  We are all in the same boat and if you are young-looking forward to this time, it is going to be ok.  You will be just fine and happy.

The gear available is awesome.  You have so many options, just ask.  Learning is key and most people are more than happy to help in this area.   It is similar to heading to the beach in a way and looking good is not really an issue.  There are many manufactures and they are all willing to help you find the right product that fits you and your lifestyle well.  I do first suggest talking it all over with your healthcare provider and making sure you are ready for this kind of activity.  It may be painful or simply complicated after surgery because you are still healing.  Also, all the medication that may be going on can have effects on you in so many different ways.  There is no need to feel pressured and afraid.  Learn and be comfortable.

Smells are always a part of this area and they do not have to be unpleasant.  That was something I was really worried about and there are lots of great tips and articles on this.  Lots of gear is anti-microbial and rather scent-proof.  There are also drops you can use in your mini bag to make sure odor is eliminated. But if you are just starting out, light a candle for your own psychological mindset. So take heart and learn.  That is my best advice.