Well, I’ve taken the leap and have started irrigating. I should have done it months ago!
What is irrigation?
This is the act of feeding water into the bowel, via my stoma, so that the bowel empties it’s contents. Yes, we’re talking about poo again, sorry.
In order to be taught how to irrigate, two stoma nurses came to my home and showed me what to do. Having ‘a poo’ with two nurses watching made for an interesting afternoon. There was much laughter and once I started ‘going’ there were oohs and aahh ‘s as to how well it was all working. “That’s the best one we’ve ever done” the nurses said. I think there was a fair chance that I was discussed at their respective dinner tables that night. Yes, they really do talk about poo, a lot!
Anyway, it all went rather well and I’ve been irrigating for nearly a fortnight now and am very happy with how it is going.
So, how does it all work?
You start by feeding in 1.5 litres of tepid water using a cone that fits into the stoma. If you feed the water in too quickly the water just comes straight back out and doesn’t bring anything with it.
During the feeding in process the bowel will start to eject it’s contents and you can feel pressure around the stoma so you just take the cone out and let the contents emerge. Over the stoma you wear a sleeve that is, in effect, a long plastic tube, the end of which you place in the toilet so that the poo doesn’t end up anywhere else!
After the twenty minutes with all of the water fed in, the bowel will continue to empty and after about another twenty minutes you’re all done.
I can then remove the sleeve and have a shower without the need to wear a bag over the stoma, which helps to keep the skin around the stoma (the peristoma skin) healthy as, with wearing a bag all of the time, it can get quite dry and occasionally sore.
As the bowel is now empty I can wear a stoma cap, rather than a Colostomy bag, the cap being much smaller (as it shouldn’t need to hold any poo) and therefore more discreet. It also means that I don’t always need to wear longer tee shirts so that nobody can see my bag. As, you can see from the picture, there is a quite a size difference!
It also means that as you only ‘go’ once a day, there are no more worries of incidents occurring whilst you’re out and is a much more predictable way of managing Cecil. It’s like having a normal bum again!
Many people that irrigate only have to do so every other day, some every third day (that sounds a bit like stoma roulette to me!) but I would like to get to every other day so that the time impact is not as great.
But, so far, it is making life a little easier, especially when I am out seeing clients, particularly if they are far away from home, I no longer need to make sure I am near a toilet or at least know where the nearest toilet is.
Well, that’s about it for now.
My next news will be the result of my next check up which I will get on Monday next week, so if that all goes well, life continues …
Lastly, some of you will have heard that the ‘celebrity’ Stephen Fry was diagnosed with prostate cancer and has had surgery to remove his cancer, if you’ve not seen his video, it’s here, http://www.stephenfry.com/2018/02/mischievous/, it’s 12 minutes long but worth a watch.
In it, he makes the point that he is fortunate to be here and that all men ‘of a certain age’ should get their prostate checked and follow the advice of the doctors. Some of us, Stephen, have been saying that for a long time! Seriously, though, his message is the same as mine has been since I was diagnosed. If your body is doing something that you don’t think it normally does, or should be doing, get it checked. Mr Fry has the advantage that he has a slightly larger audience than me!
I shall post the result of my check up when I have the news which we hope, of course, will be good.
In the meantime, have a great weekend.