How To Apply Ostomy Systems

You will learn the application of an ostomy system from your ostomy care nurse, but you may want to have a basic knowledge about the ostomy systems and the way you can use those systems.

One-piece ostomy pouching system

An ostomy pouching system that combines the skin barrier and the pouch to make one unit is known as the one-piece ostomy system. Here are the basic instructions on how you can use this system.

  • Clean the skin around the stoma and dry it well.
  • Measure the stoma.
  • If you are using a cut-to-fit ostomy pouch, be sure to prepare the skin barrier by creating an opening in it. This opening should be of the shape and size of your stoma.
  • Remove paper backing from the adhesive side of the stoma.
  • Place the pouching system over your stoma while making sure that the opening’s edges are not interfering with the stoma from any side.
  • Press the skin barrier gently, and make sure that there are no creases left under it, or it can cause leakage.
  • Keep the skin barrier pressed for a minute to ensure smoother application and a tighter, leak-proof seal.

Two-piece ostomy system

The ostomy pouching system that consists of a pouch and the skin barrier as two separable elements is known as a two-piece ostomy system. These elements connect through a coupling mechanism. Here is how you can apply this system.

  • Clean the skin around the stoma.
  • Measure your stoma to know its shape and size.
  • If you are using a cut-to-fit skin barrier, prepare it by creating a hole that matches the shape and size of your stoma. Alternatively, you can consider using a moldable skin barrier.
  • Remove backing paper from the adhesive side of the skin barrier.
  • Place the skin barrier over the stoma while making sure that the edges of the barrier opening do not interfere with the sides of the stoma.
  • Press the skin barrier well enough to ensure a tighter seal. Make sure to prevent the formation of any creases under the skin barrier. After the skin barrier is in place, snap the pouch on over the coupling device.

Removing the pouching system

You will need to change your ostomy pouch every 3-4 days, depending on the ability of the skin barrier to remain in place. Here is how you can remove an old pouching system.

  • Try to get hold of the outer edge of the skin barrier. Hold it between your fingers and peel it off the skin a little.
  • Press the skin near the edge of the skin barrier, and pull the skin barrier using your other hand. Use an adhesive remover if the seal is too strong.
  • Make sure to remain gentle with the process of skin barrier removal. You do not want to injure your peristomal skin.
  • After moving the skin barrier, wash the stoma and the skin around it. Make sure to avoid using soap that contains perfumes and oils, as they can leave a residue over the peristomal skin, compromising the skin’s ability to form a seal with the new skin barrier.
  • Before applying the skin barrier, clean the skin well, and dry it using a soft cloth.

Your Stoma is not a Handicap

I hear it a little too often for my liking and that is the thought that having an ostomy bag is a flat out handicap.  Granted these are words that I normally hear from a child and that I 100% normal and acceptable.  Lack of knowledge is what children generally have and with a few educational tips they are usually very accepting of anyone with a stoma.  But the reality is that many adults are under the impression that a stoma stops you from having a life.  In fact, they think that most normal things that people do for fun are not capable of a stoma.  Part of me simply laughs at this and part of me actually gets a little bit upset at the talk. The fact is that ignorance is no longer bliss once you are past the age of 18.  The talking down to anyone with a stoma is flat out unacceptable and if you have one and feel that way due to someone shaming you, I am simply sorry.  You are not any less than anyone.  In fact, you are flat out normal.

There are so many people that have done incredible things all while having an ostomy bag attached.  If you want to talk about greatness, for goodness sake NepolanBonapart had an ostomy.  He pretty much took over the world with an ostomy bag attached and no one ever talks about that.  In fact, he was so incredible he created the Napoleonic Law which is now the basis for almost all the legal law in the entire world.  This man was a bit of a megalomaniac but the fact is that he achieved immortality in history and accomplished amazing things all while having an ostomy.  So I know that is a bit of a crazy example, but another is an athlete that I look up to.

This man ended up getting a colostomy and wanted to not give up his professional career.  He was a professional bicycle rider for France and he decided that he wanted to prove that a stoma would not change his life for the worse in any way.  He ended up training with the goal of running an Iron Man competition in under 11 hours.  That is one of the most difficult physical feet in the entire world and a man with an ostomy decided he wanted to compete in it.  Not only did he compete but he succeeded in his goal of completing the 2 miles swim, 24-mile run, and 100 plus mile bike ride in under 11 hours. WOW  just wow.  That is an incredible accomplishment and he did it with regular ostomy gear.  That is flat out what I call not handicapped.

So do not simply take the fact that you have a stoma as a death sentence for being active or sucessfull.  Most people actually live the same life they did before with only a few extra daily routines.  Yes, there is a learning curve on how to handle the gear and how to handle your stoma and skin.  But it is a quick learnign curve and the ostomy gear of 2020 is flat out incredible.  Information is everywhere and you can simply go on social media and get all the regular fashion tips and lifestyle hacks on how to live a pretty wild life with a stoma.  So take heart and be great!

Shopping and stoma fashion

If you are anything like myself shopping is not one of your top things to do.  I know for me that I am not a fan of shopping at all.  Every time I put on a piece of clothing that doesn’t work with me it makes me a little bit sad and pretty darn mad.  So when I found out a stoma and an ostomy bag were in my future I was really just depressed.  I hate shopping and I knew that I had no chance of ever learning how to look good or to hide my ostomy bag.  Well, that is why I am certainly happy that I am not the only one in this situation.  Lots of people hate shopping and on the other hand, there are insane amounts of people that love it.  So thank goodness for them!  Because I have learned so much from people who are willing to share how they conceal their ostomy bag and go about their daily life not letting people even guess that they have a stoma.  It is not because they are afraid to talk about it, but because they live normal lives. Normal lives don’t involve 14 conversations a day on your stoma.  Get it!  So learning how to look good and not stick out is just a life blessing.  So I want to go over how others helped me out and give some tips on how to learn these things that I would have never figured out.

Before I get into how I want to state that not all bodies are the same.  And a big part of fashion for stomas revolves around getting the best gear for your body.  Not all the people I found or talked to used the same things or brands.  They were pretty upfront about how different stoma location and even shapes make a difference and that we all need to find the best ostomy gear for us.  That is a key that goes through all the fashion and that is that you may need to find the right bag or seals that work for you while looking into concealing your ostomy bag.

My first task was to find people who knew more than myself.  It is 2020 after all so there was really not a problem with hopping online and learning what others has already learned long before me.  First I went through internet searches and forums and got a baseline for the basics of what people were doing and how they tried to live a normal life without people noticing they had a stoma. Then I decided to jump into the real world of fashion on social media.

The real answer for how to look is through seeing people live what they preach.  Instagram and Youtube are two platforms where you really can’t hide what you are doing except with photoshop.  So this was really the place that I tried to find people to follow and channels to subscribe to.  I found so many people from all aspects of life who were showing how they dressed and lived and giving tips.  The comments were actually positive and that is amazing for social media.  I ended up posting a lot and learning tons.  People were reaching out on how to help and I am not a bad looking person haha Give these tips a try and see how you feel.

Hunting with an Ostomy

One of the things that I really enjoy doing in life is being outdoors.  Now having an ostomy and living with a stoma for a time did hinder me from being very active.  I am pretty new to the ostomy world and have spent a good amount of time getting my body physically able to be able to be outdoors and active again.  This took a lot of back and forth between my ostomy nurse and Doctor.  I really think that relationship was key for me to be able to be active again and I suggest talking with your healthcare provider for your specific situation.  But this will be another hunting season for me and I want to say how surprised I am at how having an ostomy does not effect my choice to put meat on the table for my family.

So for the most part I am a deer hunter.  This is one area that recently got into in the last 5 years.  I spent some time in college with a good friend who always has specialty meats in his freezer.  He would eat duck one night, and steaks the next.  It baffled me how he was able to afford it back then.  It all hit me hard and came to make sense decades later to me.  He was a hunter.  On his college breaks he would go hunting instead of head down to the beach.  It allowed him to eat like a king and do it all for almost no cost.  About five years ago I started talking to him again and he gave me some great tips about deer hunting. I got so excited to go out and learn something new so I dived right in.

With an ostomy in mind he was worried about smells with the deer since they have 40 times our sense of smell.  He stated that smell was the most important part of hunting and playing the wind with deer is how you do it.  Well it turns out that after calling several ostomy companies up that scent blocking bags exist and they are made of the same stuff that super high end hunting gear is made of.  This was amazing because I doubled up on the bags and hunting gear and on my second outing I got my first deer.  It was an incredible time and to be honest super nasty, but it was an adventure.  The hardness of the weight of the deer made me happy I worked hard on getting my ab muscles back in shape and safe from any ostomy issues or hernias.  So I for the first time found out that one deer could fill my freezer for my family for a whole year.  We had all the burgers, steaks, and jerky we could really want.  Although the jerky ran out first my first year. 

So this changed my mind on being able to do anything with an ostomy.  Granted, I didn’t really go out and do insane things, but I hunted a lot more.  This year I talked with my friend again and I am going to do duck hunting for the first time.  It is really exciting and I cannot wait to have fancy duck dinners with my wife this year. So be active and don’t let your stoma hold you back!

Sand in your Stoma?

Going to the beach is certainly an amazing time for most people.  Even during the pandemic it didn’t stop millions of people from going to the beach to enjoy the outdoors.  I have to admit that even with a stoma I still love heading to the beach.  Sand and all it really is a wonderful time and there is literally so much to do.  I don’t want anyone to feel like just because they have a stoma that they shouldn’t go to the beach.  So I just want to go over my summer vacation and let you know that you can have a blast at the beach and don’t be afraid of sand in your stoma!

So my family likes to do a trip up to Lake Michigan once a year.  It is a different kind of fun because the water is not salt water.  I am not a fan of salt water and it really just burns everything.  So being able to enjoy the water without the fear of sharks or crazy sea life is a pretty awesome experience.  Once a year wifes extended family meets up and we spend a week just enjoying the slower pace of life.  We try to use less technology and simply spend time together having fun outside.  I think it is a wonderful time and we all are able to relax in our own way. 

Now since I have a stoma there are a few extra steps I have to take to ensure that all goes well.  For one I enjoy a stoma cap or a really small bag for the water.  I still wear a shirt just to avoid sunburn and to hide my tattoos from the younger more conservitive children.  But I make sure that my stoma is safe and one way to do it is to not be sunburned.  Getting a t-shirt that is UV rated is pretty important to me.  Most outdoor stores like Patagonia and Columbia have UV rated shirts and clothing and I like to use those when I am out on the beach.

Another important thing to me is to have backups.  Sometimes we spend a whole day on the beach away from civilization and I think having ostomy gear spares is important. You never know if you are going to fall off a jetski going 50 MPH on a wave and if it rips off your bag you may need to have a spare ready! This is why I double bag everything and make sure to keep it in a waterproof container.  I like otterbox, but there are so many good waterproof gear brands that the sky is the limit.  But make sure to keep some sanitary gear there too, because bacteria is everywhere on the beach. It is important to make sure nothing is going to get into your stoma and when things get hot, sticky, and sand is everywhere we tend to rush a bit.  So slow down take your time and make sure everything is safe.

Now my advice is to go outside and enjoy the beach.  Don’t be afraid of the what iffs and possibilities.  I think that you can be safe and happy at the beach and look good too. So just go out and make sure you are doing your best to be safe.

Tips For Living With A Colostomy

The final part of the digestive system consists of the colon, which is 4-6 feet in length. The primary job of this part of the digestive tract is to absorb water and electrolytes from the stool. It allows only the solid waste material to pass out through the rectum and anus.

Some diseases or injuries can cause the colon, rectum, or anus to stop functioning. In those cases, the surgeon will want to either remove or disconnect the colon’s diseased part from the healthy part. The end of the healthy part is brought through an incision in the abdominal wall to create a stoma, which is a point that allows the newly made diversion to evacuate bodily waste. The diseased part is either removed or left to heal. The stool passed out through the stoma is collected into an ostomy bag, which connects over the stoma. A colostomy can be permanent or temporary.

Impact of a colostomy on life

During your stay in the hospital after surgery, the nurse will educate you about how to take care of your colostomy. They will also give you some tips to adapt to life with a stoma. A change in lifestyle will be inevitable after colostomy surgery, but it doesn’t mean that this change will make you less active and healthy. All you have to do is to make sure that you are good at the management of your ostomy. You can also join a colostomy support group to get all the help that you need to stay motivated.

Here are a few tips that you may find helpful in your colostomy care regimen.

  • You will need to monitor any medication that you are taking. Make sure that those medications are not causing constipation or diarrhea.
  • You may have to say goodbye to the foods that cause gas. It includes cabbage, beans, and nuts. You can talk to a dietician to choose a diet that will help you avoid constipation, diarrhea, and gas.
  • You will need to stay active and healthy, and your colostomy is not going to stop you from that. The matter of fact is that modern-day colostomy care supplies conceal well under the clothes in such a way that nobody will be able to know about your ostomy. You can get back to work, engage in sports, and interact with your friends with full confidence.
  • You can even avoid using a colostomy bag if you want. For this purpose, you are going to have to note your schedule of bowel movements. When it is time, you can go to the toilet and pass an enema through the stoma. This enema will push water into the stoma and trigger bowel movement. This process is called colostomy irrigation. The stool will pass out from the stoma as a result of this procedure. After the completion of the process, you can cover the stoma with a stoma cap or a mini ostomy pouch.

Before resuming your normal activities after colostomy surgery, be sure to talk to your doctor or ostomy care nurse.