This year has been a struggle. There’s been a lot going on with wound issues, the parastomal hernia, depression and generally not really getting on with the stoma.
I’ve always been up front about these issues either on this blog or in person with my stoma team and consultant. During the last appointment in November, I again mentioned that I wasn’t getting on well so the stoma nurse brought up the subject of Colostomy Irrigation. This was a new concept to me but she mentioned that people irrigate either because of stoma issues out of their control or because, like me, they’re just not getting on with it.
I came away intrigued and willing to give it a go but I needed more information. I put a shout out on Twitter and a Colostomy Irrigation group on Facebook was mentioned. I’m not a huge fan of Facebook groups as a way of sourcing information about health problems you may be experiencing mainly because it usually transpires that people with similar problems actually have slightly different problems and slightly different resolutions to those problems.
But despite my reluctance, I joined the group and posted my questions. The response was fantastic and very positive in favour of irrigation. I learned about how it’s done, how you can take breaks from it if required (it’s recommended to commit to doing it long-term but I needed the reassurance that I wasn’t making another life-changing decision), how long it takes and how it can benefit me when I return to running (this excited me, particularly for the longer distance runs).
An appointment was made with my stoma team so that I could take a look at the equipment. They’ve learned that it’s best to go through this process as some people are put off by what you have to do so decide against doing it. I’m glad that I had the appointment as despite not all the quit frustratingly not being available for me to see, I did learn that you have to do something that some people just don’t want to do.
You Have To Put Your Finger Where?
In order to ensure that ensure that the funnel enters the stoma correctly, you need to first put your finger inside to see which way the bowel is positioned. It makes sense but came as a surprise. I can understand how some people can be squeamish about doing that but luckily there are no nerve endings in your bowel so putting a finger in your New Bum won’t be the same as putting a finger in your Old Bum (having suffered with Crohn’s for a long time I’ve had the displeasure of having to insert suppositories!).
An appointment has been made for 8th January where I’m going to do my first irrigation with a nurse. It’s apt that it’s taking place in the new year and it’ll hopefully be a new start for me after a year of ups and downs.
Right now I’m looking forward to it but there are still unknowns. How long will it take my body to irrigate? Will the daily irrigation be an inconvenience? Will my body not get on with it? (Luckily most get on with it) Will it be the right choice for me? (Hopefully yes!)
Between now and then I must have a go at inserting a finger into the stoma to see how I get on. I’m up for the challenge!