Hey PB, glad you could join us here :) Let's see if I can answer some of your questions for you.
"Where exactly does this bag stick out of your body from?"
An ileostomy is usually placed on the right hand side approx a few inches across and below your belly button. Positioning may vary slightly depending on your build, whether the op is an emergency or not, etc. Before the op, a nurse specialising in stoma care will probably interview you and watch you walk, take into account the types of clothes you wear, etc and, accordingly, mark a point on the side of your abdomen for the best site for your stoma.
A colostomy is usually positioned on the left hand side in a similar area.
"Is this the only kind of bag there is?"
There are many different brands of bags out there because there are many different skin types. At first, you'll probably need to experiment with a few to find the best one for you. They come in many different shapes and sizes.
Ileostomates usually use drainable bags so that as the bag becomes full, they just drain it into the loo to empty. Colostomates usually use closed end bags and simply throw away the bag when it's full (this is because output from a colostomy is a lot thicker than output from an ileostomy).
"do they come in different sizes?"
They sure do :)
"can you still bath/swim?"
Absolutely! I was in swimming a month after my ileostomy operation. Bikinis might be out (usually) but the tankinis that are in at the moment work great for a lot of ostomates. If not, a one piece, with a splash of colour or a pattern over the ostomy site disguises any slight bulge that might be there. In 27 years of swimming, no one has ever spotted that I have an ostomy.
"are you limited to wearing loose clothing?"
Nope. In my younger (ie slimmer) days, I wore the tightest jeans possible.
Heck, I even know an exotic dancer who has an ileostomy and she hides it very easily while dancing.
"what kind of maintinance is involved and is it costly??"
I estimate that I spend approx an hour all up a week looking after my ostomy. two minutes to empty it approx 4 - 6 times a day and I change once a week and have that down to 3 minutes flat.
Of course, at first, you'll take a lot more time than that. It's like anything though. The more used to it you become, the quicker you become :)
It's very easy to empty and change. I was doing it all by myself at 10 years of age, so it really can't be that hard :)
As for cost, I can't answer that because in Australia we get all our supplies for free. I do know that in the USA it depends on your insurance as to how much you pay for appliances.
"isn't it bothersome when you're trying to sleep?"
not really. Most people find they can't sleep on their stomach any longer (but with a bit of creative pillow positioning, you can almost do it), but apart from that, you should be fine.
At first you may be up once or twice a night to empty but that usually settles down after a while.
You probably will wake up with the 'Good Year Blimp' on your belly (ie the bag will be full of gas) in the morning but a quick trip to the loo fixes that one.
"is it uncomfotable in any way? if so, please explain?"
At first you'll notice it cos it's new and you'll be very aware of it. Soon though, you'll forget you even have a bag until it's time to empty. It's a matter of getting used to it.
"Why do they do a reversal? what is that all about??"
There's two types of reversals:
1) Reversal meaning back to original plumbing. In this case, the ostomy is done to give the affected bowel a rest and you're reconnected when everything's healed again.
2) Reversal to a j pouch. Meaning the ileostomy is reversed and a j pouch formed. This is an internal type of pouch and you won't have to wear a bag. For more info on the j pouch, try http://www.j-pouch.org
"what about during "intimate" times? what's that like?"
There are many places that sell ostomy lingerie for those times but most people don't bother. A cheap alternative is to buy a tube top. A tube top around the waist and over the ostomy will suffice if you're worried about your partner seeing your ostomy. A lot of people don't even bother with that and just 'push' the bag out of the way (but that's usually only once they gain confidence with the ostomy).
Remember, a lot of times the ostomate 'thinks' that their partner must be bothered by the ostomy because the ostomate themself is. You can't predict what a partner will think and shouldn't assume. Most times, partners will be curious about what an ostomy is, will ask questions, ie 'can I hurt it', etc but ultimately, it's you they want. No where in personal ads have I ever seen 'must be loyal, friendly and poop via their anus and rectum.' How you poop is simply not a criteria most people base a relationship on and if they do, then I doubt you'd really want to be with them anyway.
Hope this helps matie.
I'm not a complete idiot - some parts are missing!
Last Edited : 3/24/2004 7:15:39 AM GMT