Today I embarked on the next step in my journey to a ‘normal’ life again by giving Colostomy Irrigation a go.
What Are My Concerns?
The main concern I have is the commitment to doing it and the time it will take. For some it may take 30 minutes, other an hour. I’ve always been a very early riser so I’ve always have plenty of time to perform an irrigation and it will give me time to read a book. So whilst the commitment is a concern, the time shouldn’t be an issue.
I Put My Finger Where?
When I first discussed colostomy irrigation with my stoma nurse, I was told that the process isn’t for everyone and when they discover some of the steps involved they become squeamish and decide its not for them. One of those steps is placing a little cone in your stoma, the other was placing a finger in there!
The purpose of placing your finger inside is to determine which way the bowel is positioned so that you can place the cone in correctly. I was given a glove and purchase some KY Jelly for lubrication and had a deadline to ry it out but I was a bit apprehensive about doing it so kept putting it off. With time running out I bit the bullet and gave it a go. With a lack of nerve endings in the bowel I was never going to feel anything but it was still a weird experience.
The Big Day
I don’t get anxious about many things, if ever, but I was particularly anxious about this day. My appointment was first thing in the morning, straight after having the Ken Butt wound dressed, and I arrived with my box of goodies ready to be shown the art of emptying all the poop from your bowels.
Watching my stoma nurse set up all the equipment I was trying to making a mental note of everything that she was doing. I’m sure it’ll quickly become second nature but it still looked daunting seeing everything laid out.
Not knowing how much water I would be able to take, the bag was filled with approximately 1300ml of warm water. Based on how much I can take will dictate the next irrigation.
The first task was have a poke around inside my new bum to check which way the bowel was sitting and then based on that I could start to insert the cone. Inserting the cone was an odd sensation and it didn’t go too far inside. There was some discomfort at the point where it was touching the bowel but I wasn’t sure what the source of that discomfort was. The valve was opened to allow the water to flow but at first there was no movement but with a little adjustment of the cone the water started flowing.
Surprisingly it didn’t take long for the majority of the fluid to go into the bowel. And it didn’t take long for the fluid to start leave the bowel. After perhaps half had left I could grab the end of the draining sleeve and clip it to the top so that I could get off the toilet.
At this point I wasn’t feeling too great and feeling a little nauseous. This was probably a combination of me being anxious about the whole thing along with my body not being used to going to toilet in this way. The sensation of feeling a little ill did continue throughout the day but I’m not going to let that put me off.
After a few more bowel movements and waiting just to see if there was anything else left inside we removing the sleeve and fitted a mini colostomy bag.
What Do I Think?
It’s not an enjoyable experience so I knew I wasn’t going to come away feeling that I enjoyed the whole process. I understand that over time, or even very quickly, it’ll become second nature and it won’t be an issue doing it. I spent around an hour with the stoma nurse but it probably took 45 minutes of less. We were taking things easy so once I’m more experienced I have a feeling it will take less time.
It’s a stinky process so I’m definitely going to have to invest in a good air freshener for the bathroom and it’s slightly unpleasant having this bag of warm liquid poop hanging off your body but again, over time this won’t become an issue.
Throughout the day I have experienced some wind escaping but nothing else has gone into the colostomy bag.
Tomorrow I’ll be going solo and I’m hoping that I remember the sequence of how to do everything and don’t end up cleaning up liquid poop from the floor. I’m really hoping that I will quickly reap the benefits of committing to irrigating and realise that there was no need to be so anxious about doing it.