The Big C

A journey through Stage Four Cancer

Colostomy

on December 8, 2010

Colostomy.  The very word makes people shrink away and shiver!  It’s unimaginable.  It’s unnatural.

And it might just save your life if you have some cancers, like colon, rectal or anal cancer.

As the child’s book by Taro Gomi says “Everybody Poops.”  And if you don’t, you’re not long for this world.

So, when you can’t poop because of an obstruction like a tumor, or part of your digestion system can’t be used (temporarily or permanently) the answer is a colostomy.

This link, I think gives the best basic knowledge: www.webmd.com/colorectal-cancer/guide/living-colostomy

So, there is the practical, but it doesn’t get rid of the shivers, does it?

If there is a colostomy in your future, don’t despair!  First, colostomies are not alway permanent.  In my case, it was temporary, and it really did save my life.

I wasn’t all gung ho! and thrilled to be getting one at the time, believe me.  There is nothing like looking at your body after numerous operations and seeing the long scar that divides your torso in half, and something as unnatural as a colostomy bag.  I saw it, and even though I knew it was coming, I cried.

I felt like Frankenstein’s monster.

But after the initial revulsion,  I was grateful because now I had a much better chance of living, being with my family just that much longer.

After the operation, I guess a few day later, a Colostomy Nurse came in to talk to me.  She bought with her a sharp pair of scissors and the components of the colostomy: wafer and bag.  That first day, I cried again.  I looked at the components with pure hate.  The nurse told me that my reaction was typical of most people.

The next day, she came again.  This time she changed the bag, and I watched.  I also handed her the bag, and she helped me to fasten it on.  It was a fast visit.

Her third visit, there was no more fooling around.  She taught me how to measure the stoma (that is the outside opening where the waste comes out), and to remove the old wafer, clean the area (the first time that was emotionally very hard to do), reapply a new wafer, and put on the bag.

I found, that having a colostomy is more manageable if you put yourself on a schedule.  Have all the supplies that you are going to need waiting for you in one place in the bathroom.  Know what days you are going to change the wafer, so in the beginning you can “steel” yourself for that day.  That was the most difficult thing for me in the beginning.

Besides having a great doctor, and a visiting nurse that returned phone calls usually within the day, the other thing that really helped me was a support group I found online.  It is a Yahoo Group called Ostomates_R_Us@yahoogroups.com You can ask them any question, about anything! They’ve heard it all, experienced it all and are so open and honest and friendly.  As soon as you find out that you are going to have an ostomy, you should join this group.  You’ll find them invaluable!!

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2 responses to “Colostomy

  1. Sherri says:

    I moan & groan about my MS ALL THE TIME…. and I have no business doing that. You are my hero! Coming through all this cancer garbage as you have…. it’s a miracle!

    I cannot imagine what it must’ve been like for you to consider death… to have to make plans…to think about your family. I can’t even imagine. Heart-wrenching I know.

    And all the things that go with the treatments for cancer…such as the colostomy bag… yikes! But we all do what we have to do….and we get through it one way or another.

    You, my lady, are a hero!

  2. The Big C says:

    Dear Sherri,

    Thank-you for your praise as undeserved as it is. We both belong to the “New Normal” club, and treasuring the life we have, we do what we can to make the most of our days as we can.

    I started to write this blog, so that anyone who gets the devastating news of Stage Four Cancer won’t be as “out to sea” as I was, when I first got my news. Sort of tell the “scary bits” before they go through them, and try to take the teeth out of the monster, or at least file the teeth down a little!

    Death is a very real possibility, remission can end at any time. But as Elizabeth Edwards said to her kids when she told them about her cancer “Raise your hand if you don’t think you’re going to die ever.”

    And as my cousin Tara pointed out “You could cross the street tomorrow, and get hit by a car.”

    So I try to enjoy every day, and look very well before I cross streets!!! 🙂

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