I phoned the stoma nurse this morning because over the weekend, I noticed that my stomach was changing shape as the post-op swelling was going down, and a crease had developed between my tummy button and the stoma. This was causing the flange of the bag to crease, and I had a slight leak.
The stoma nurse told me they’d had a cancellation, and I could go in in the afternoon to see her. She had a look, and agreed that there was now a crease, and gave me some banana strips (or flanges) (also known as smilies) to stick around the edge of the bag flange to ensure against leaks. These strips are very thin and flexible.
She gave me two sizes, but fitted me with the larger one while I was there.
The banana flanges have more than one piece of backing paper, and you remove them one at a time, to make the flanges easier to handle and place accurately.
She also gave me some new rings to try. These are made by Hollister and she thought they might fill the gap a bit better. So far, so good, with this, and the banana flange!
I must say I do find these mouldable rings very difficult to manipulate. It’s difficult enough getting them to the right size and shape to fit your stoma, but when you press them down, they stick to your fingers and distort when you try to let go! In the end I used the backing sheet to press with, but I still ended up with rather a lumpy result. Another problem I am experiencing is that now the stoma is shrinking, it is not doing so evenly, and is now oval in shape, with a small projection at one side. I am hoping this will all settle down eventually, and become nice and round again, but in the meantime (made worse because I’m still very much a learner driver!) I am struggling to get a good fit with the bag and ring.
The nurse said that there was a bit of bleeding from the small projection – you often get small spots of blood when cleaning the stoma, and this is quite normal, but she said this little projection was a bit more vulnerable, so she cauterised it for me with a small drop of some chemical – I didn’t feel a thing.
She asked me how I was getting on with the bags I’ve been using, and I said I really liked them, particularly the way the bottom folds up and is secured with velcro, and you can tuck the fold up into the cover. She said that Coloplast had brought out a newer model of this bag, which I might like to try – the fabric is even better and more comfortable against the skin, and once I have the ones with the opaque cover on the front (instead of the transparent ones the hospital supplies), this cover does not snag on your clothes. The flange is very thin and flexible at the edge (much more so than the older model) and the whole thing feels a lot softer. She gave me several to try. I certainly like the look of them, and will try one at my next bag change tomorrow.
When I saw her last week, she brought in three carrying bags so that I could choose one. These bags are for taking your ostomy supplies in when you are out and about, and are provided by the various supply companies who do home deliveries of everything you need, all free on prescription – the bag you choose determines which company you will be dealing with long-term. I chose this bag.
It has lots of zipped compartments, and a large main compartment, with pockets for small items like adhesive remover, small air freshener spray etc. etc. Here it is opened up.
You can see my Vanish stain remover pot on the left – it has some ziplock bags inside, for emptying my bag if I’m caught short away from a loo! Also a pack of dry wipes. You can just see the pocket at the back, and there’s another one inside the front, as well as one on the outside at the front. The larger pocket on the right has a small towel in it for spreading over myself when changing the bag. On the flap there is a mirror – handy for lining up the bag correctly over the stoma, and you can just see above that, a metal hook, and a cord with a clip on it – this gives you a choice for hanging the bag if you haven’t got anywhere to put it down within reach. They seem to have thought of everything. The bag is very well made, and ideal for the purpose.
It is supplied by a company called Patient Choice. I am very glad that I chose the bag provided by them, because they are the only supply company that runs on a non-profit basis. They plough all their profits into stoma care and inflammatory bowel disease charities, and even run a service for collecting unwanted ostomy supplies for redistribution in the third world. I am very happy to be part of that!
The nurse said she would like me to keep the appointment we had made for a week today, so we can discuss how I’m getting on, and check that the skin inflammation is improved – I think it is getting better now, with the Head & Shoulders treatment, and also the application of the stomahesive powder and the barrier wipes. We also discussed an interesting new product (the subject of my next post) and by next week I will have had a chance to try it.