Looking After Me and My Stoma

September is here 3

“Removing your bag can be painful and giving damaged skin some extra love to help it heal can really improve the skin barrier.”

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Morning

My husband, Tim, and I usually wake up around 6/ 6:30am, usually joined by our goofy chocolate Labrador, Sherlock, who takes up the entire bed, leaving Tim and I holding on to the side of the bed, desperately trying not to fall out. To add to the morning chaos, our cat Moma can be found wandering the landing, meowing (basically shouting) at us to get her breakfast.

Every morning, I check my night bag, to look for any signs of infection. I check for smell, excess mucus or any symptoms of dehydration. It’s slightly harder to spot infections when you have a stoma but getting to know your body and how it reacts to infection is really helpful! One sign of infection for me is an increase in mucus or a high fever. I try to notice signs of infection before a fever occurs, something I’ve not mastered just yet, but I try to keep in tune with my body and check in on how I’m feeling.

When removing my bag, I like to check there isn’t any damage to the skin or skin trauma around the stoma site and the bag area. Sometimes when removing your stoma bag, you can pull the skin and cause damage. Removing your bag can be painful and giving damaged skin some extra love to help it heal can really improve the skin barrier. I like to use my barrier spray or wipes before putting on a new flange or bag.

If you find that your skin is pulling when removing your bag, check out our adhesive remover sprays and wipes, or call the customer service team to find out more!

I then check my skin for discolouration around the stoma or anything else that might look out of the ordinary. If everything is all good, my stoma is usually cherry red and looking healthy!

During the day

Once I’ve checked my stoma and skin and completed by bag change, it’s time for a morning coffee. I usually have 2 cups of coffee in the morning and throughout the day I do enjoy copious amounts of tea! Since giving up alcohol, I’ve become a huge fan of tea and it just so happens that Tim makes a wonderful cuppa! (I’ve given him a nudge to put the kettle on while I’m writing!)

I like to make sure that I have a few glasses of water during the day. A good indicator of how hydrated I am, is by the colour of my pee! If I notice that it’s a little dark, I’ll make sure to drink some more water. Staying hydrated, doesn’t mean drinking pints and pints of water in one go, your kidneys might not like that so much! It’s good to keep an eye on staying hydrated, but always follow your clinician's guidance.

Evening

On days I’m changing my bag, I like to treat myself to a huge bubbly bath and a bit of pampering for this tired old body of mine! Bliss! I like to have a lovely soak, stick on a face mask and just chill. Towards the end of my bath, I’ll take off my bag and just air the stoma area. This is another chance for me to check the stoma site and skin area. I’ll tell you something, it is nice to not wear a bag for a while without peeing over your feet or on the poor dog!

When it’s time to go to bed, many people like to attach their stoma or night bag with a type of strap to keep it in one place. Personally, I choose not to do this. I always place my underwear band under the stoma bag and have done since my operation. I tried to attach my stoma bag to my night bag under my underwear band, but this was just slightly too restrictive for me! Try different things and find out what feels comfortable for you.

Most nights I sleep on my side, so when I connect my night bag, I try to ensure I have a little bit of freedom to move and turn over if I want to. I’m very aware of my bag and night bag during the night and so I struggle to sleep sometimes but have found a sleeping medication helps me drift off more easily.

So, there’s a little insight into how I look after myself and my stoma throughout the day!

If you have any questions or problems with your stoma, give your stoma care nurse a call or call the SecuriCare team! They’re always on hand to give product advice and listen to your concerns.

Thanks for reading!

Anita x

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by Anita Brown

Anita Brown

About the author

Hi I’m Anita Brown. Diagnosed with terminal small cell bladder cancer in April 2016. I've had palliative chemo and radiotherapy, and a radical cystectomy and urostomy in August 2017.

I've had problems with my bladder all my life, from incontinence, to kidney and bladder stones, and now cancer. I would like to share some of my experiences - follow me on Twitter.

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