First time changing my appliance by myself.. what a nightmare

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Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 351
   Posted 9/18/2008 10:22 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi everyone.  I just changed my appliance by myself tonight because I started to get extrememly itchy under the wafer.  To top it all off I couldn't scratch it.  Anyway I took everything off, took a shower, and then proceeded to TRY to apply the new bag.  What a friggin' nightmare.  The only problem I have is that when I cut the wafer to fit the stoma I feel like I'm constantly cutting away at it.  My stoma is not perfectly circle so I have to keep taking off till I feel it's good enough.  I know you're supposed to have a little skin show between the stoma and the wafer but I just couldn't do it.  Either it was too much or not enough.  I don't want to cut into the stoma.  To top it all off I still had some residual stoma paste still attached to my skin after I took a shower.  Thats never happened before.  I called the home health care nurse hotline and got some lady who didn't know what the hell she was talking about.  It was like talking to my four year old son.  Anyway I used about 5 different wafers, cried for my reversal, then finally gave up and just did the best I could.  Another thing is that my skin is raw and red around the stoma and the skin actually peels away with the wafer.  I've been applying the stoma powder and I hope it works.  My nurse wants to discharge me on monday so I'll have to do it myself from now on.  Do you guys have any tips on how to cut the wafer because it's turning out to be my nemesis.  Thank you.

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 420
   Posted 9/18/2008 10:38 PM (GMT -6)   
Try cutting it with the backing paper still on - once you get a good fit, peel off the backing paper and KEEP it! Then use it as a stencil for your next change. Just take a pen, trace it onto the new bag, then cut the new bag. Just keep a eye on your stoma, because it will change sizes as you heal.

Don't worry, you will get used to it, and it will get easier. It's hard for everyone in the beginning!

As for itching, it's horrible, and there isn't a whole lot to do for it. If it isn't that you need a bag changing, the best relief I could ever get was to push on it where it itched (gently). That, and to distract myself! Ugh! :)
If at first you do not succeed, then skydiving is surely not meant for you.
Jo - UC, total colectomy and ileostomy on August 24, 2008.

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 15
   Posted 9/18/2008 10:53 PM (GMT -6)   
It takes time to get comfortable dealing with that thing! My Mom changed mine for at least 6 months before I started doing it myself. I guess I was lucky :) The itching is awful. I used to just hit myself in that area because scratching gets you nowhere. The stencil thing is the best thing to do if your stoma is not a perfect circle. Mine was retracted and difficult to fit too. I had awful skin problems from leakage. I used barrier rings and that seemed to help with the leakage. I also used paste & powder. As for the paste still being on your skin. That is okay, just put more on top of it. I would have residue if I had to change my bag often. Hang in there, you will get it!
Living UC free!
J-pouch surgery Mar'07 & Apr'08
Diagnosed with UC in 2002

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 351
   Posted 9/18/2008 11:10 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks guys for the info. I have crohn's disease now for six years and finally needed to have a foot of my small bowel removed. Luckily I was able to have the surgery laproscopiclly so I had a really easy recovery. I feel 100 percent better and i don't have to worry about the pain and diareah anymore but man i want this bag gone. it's been 6 weeks. surgeon says i can have the reversal between 8 and 12 weeks. it can't come soon enough.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 6571
   Posted 9/18/2008 11:27 PM (GMT -6)   
this is something that i do to help make it easier. I have four boxes, the kind that the bags come in, and in each box i have everything i need for a change. I have a disposal bag, a tube of paste, my little towel squares to clean/dry with, a precut wafer and a bag, that i already closed (you have no idea how many times i put a new bag on and forgot to close it!)
I think that makes it easier, cause you dont' have to rush around and worry about forgetting something. I also have a waterproof mat that i lay on, so if i shoudl make a mess, it doesn't go anywhere but on there, that gives me some peace of mind.
As for the itchies, i HATE those, but i have no advice except what they told you already.
You can use the little measure thing that comes with your wafers to measure over your stoma first, then put that on the wafer and cut it out, i do agree that you should leave the backing on.
LIke they said, it's ok to have a little residue, the most important thing is that it is completly dry. You may be having itching cause you aren't getting the wafer all the way dry after you shower with it on. If i dont' get good and dry after a shower, i itch like crazy.
good luck!

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2008
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 9/19/2008 12:33 PM (GMT -6)   
My stoma changed shape over the weeks after my surgery. I got used to cutting 30mm holes, then got all sorts of pain and itching because I was fouling the skin around it. I have now settled down and cut a 25mm circle.

The area covered by the adhesive still causes problems: sometimes skin is ripped off and there is bloody, raw skin. My colorectal nurse has given me "Ostoguard" cream to rub into the area and suggested that I contact suppliers of such products asking for free samples of similar stuff to check what works.

Things might be different stateside.


Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2008
Total Posts : 489
   Posted 9/20/2008 1:07 AM (GMT -6)   
rolleyes  bella I had about 1/2 of my small bowel removed in jan. I had my bag about 5 months.I was so happy to get it removed.I still have bad diarreia but I think some of it is because I am on a strong antibiotic.I will still have this after I get off the meds.but no one knows how much is the meds. and how much I will have to put up with later. When thay first reverse the ileostomy every time I went to the bathroom it made me feel very ill. but that feeling gets better after some time.At first you go so mutch that you cannot be very far from the bathroom but this also gets better after  a few weeks.Sometimes I can go 3 or 4 hours befor I have to go to the bathroom. I was scared befor surgery but it turned out to be the easyest surgery that I have had this year and I have had alot. I am wishing you good luck and hope every thang gos good for you.  

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 89
   Posted 9/23/2008 7:16 PM (GMT -6)   
Get a good pair of curved nail scissors to cut the wafer.  It's much easier than the straight ones that came with the supplies.
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