I had a stoma nurse appointment this a.m. and she expressed herself as extremely pleased at how things are. She was very impressed with how well the operation wound and Kermit have healed up, and how clean and healthy the peristomal skin looked. I have been using Coloplast SenSura soft convex bags for a while now, and have recently started using Trio Silex Flange Extenders which are a total dream – very thin, flexible, almost invisible soft silicone which peels off really easily without leaving any residue, and breathable.
Because I am doing so well, she hasn’t scheduled another appointment unless I want to come back, say after the chemo has finished in the autumn, or if I have any problems.
Since my surgery, I’ve had problems with mucous discharge from my rectal stump – a feeling of needing to “go” and not being able to bear down. Quite a lot of discharge coming when I’m on the loo, with sometimes a definite “plop” as the plug comes out. Sometimes it’s a bit pink with blood. The chemo makes it worse. I have tried a technique called “anal stimulation” which spinal injury patients use to help them evacuate their bowels. You push in a finger a short way and twirl it round and round to open the anus, allowing the content to escape. I use a piece of toilet paper, to do this, and it allows quite a bit of mucus to escape.
My surgeon said a lot of people have this problem post-surgery and that it may eventually clear up.
I have read that mucus is a natural discharge from the large bowel and rectum, which helps lubricate the stool on its way out, being absorbed by the stool in the normal functioning system. Once there is no stool to come out, the mucus is still there and has to come out. I have a short rectal stump and am amazed how much it can produce! While for some people this can stop eventually, it seems more logical, given the above, that it would go on forever because it’s a normal body process to produce it.
I spoke to the oncologist about it last month and she said I might mention it to my stoma nurse, and then she said, “I’ll phone her straight away and see what she suggests.” (They are so marvellous – everything I tell them gets dealt with straight away and they always seem to have an answer up my sleeve to help me through my various difficulties, but the secret is to tell them everything so that they know, and can help.) She came back to say that the nurse recommended something called “Micralax” which is a small plastic capsule with a plastic tube on it which you insert into the rectum and squeeze the liquid in – it is a mini-enema. You keep it in for 5-10 mins or however long it takes to soften the mucus and then this comes away when you go to the loo.
She gave me a prescription straight away, and I tried it that night, but was amazed how painful it was – not the insertion of the tube, but the stuff itself. I couldn’t bear to keep it in even for 5 mins. and after I’d expelled it down the loo (before it had really had a chance to work) my bum was sore for quite a long time afterwards. I’d been told to do this twice a week, and it was just as bad the next time, after which I phoned the stoma nurse.
She said that this stuff does tend to cause a bit of pain, but in my case it sounded more extreme. She said there might be some inflammation in the rectal stump, and to try using it once a week. It was still painful a week later when I used it but not quite so bad. She said if it wasn’t any good, we could try glycerin suppositories which are more gentle, and to leave it until my appointment today, when she gave me some suppositories to try.
The discharge doesn’t seem to be so bad at the moment. I do find that the discharge comes in waves – for a couple of weeks or so it’s a real problem, then it seems to disappear for a bit, only to return. It’s very unpredictable, but the chemo does make it worse. I shall be trying the suppositories when it returns again.
She said that if they work, I can get them on prescription via my GP, so no need to return to the stoma clinic for them.
I also enquired again about support pants and wraps, which I’d asked for some time ago and nothing had been forthcoming, and she showed me some samples from their store cupboard and gave me some leaflets to take home. She suggested I search the Internet and find something I like, and they will arrange a prescription from my GP. I have been resting (and sleeping) this afternoon as I am feeling very wiped out again after my chemo on Friday. I have not yet therefore had time to explore and find what wraps/pants I want yet. Eventually, once I’ve decided, and started with a couple of each from the manufacturer(s), my regular supplier will be able to provide me with them with my normal orders from them for bags etc.
The stoma nurse was impressed with how well I am, despite the chemo, and how well I am coping. We chatted about attitude, and how being positive, upbeat, keeping a sense of humour, and thinking of others, all help one enormously. I have every expectation that I am going to beat the cancer completely and make a good recovery from all the illness and trauma of this year. I said to her that it has changed me, and hopefully made me a better person, and I have learnt so much, and made so many new friends around the world, and unpleasant as much of the procedure has been, given my time again, I would not change a thing. I never, never thought I could ever say such a thing but it is really true. My life has been incredibly enriched through this experience.
While we were waiting for my appointment, and then afterwards when we came out, we met up with 2 lovely ladies (it turned out my hubby knew the daughter from where we used to live) – the elderly mother is a new ileostomate (since May) and is struggling a bit. My hubby and I were able to tell her quite a bit and he’s given them our number so if she wants to come over and have a session in what my hubby calls my “girlie bathroom” (lol!) she is most welcome, and I am sure I can help her. I told her several good suggestions I’d learnt on the Camp Crappy forum on Inspire, which were news to them both, and said I’d be happy to help with any questions she might have. I feel so great, being quite a newbie at this myself (just under 5 months post-surgery) but doing so well and now being able to help others get through the rocky first months of their own journey. I am so grateful to Camp Crappy which has helped me so much and helped me to be informed, and much more able to cope. This poor lady has very poor appetite so we are going to try and help with some nice tempting food ideas too – my hubby has been “feeding” me throughout and we know what’s good for stomas, and what is enjoyable and appetising when one is on chemo and not feeling like eating.
The stoma nurse loved my hair! I told her I’ve started telling people it’s a side effect of the chemo lol! I’m waiting for someone to say, “What are you on? Can I have some?” Hahaha!!