Perspective on living with a stoma bag.
For those who don’t know, there are three types of stoma bag. There’s an ileostomy, which is where the small bowel is pulled outside of the abdomen to release waste into the bag, often used when the large bowel has perforated or has been so blocked up that it needs a break. Then, there’s a colostomy, which is much like an ileostomy except the large bowel is pulled out. And finally, a urostomy. The urostomy, as you can probably guess from the name, releases urine into a bag straight from the kidneys. It’s often used for people who are unable to pass urine through their bladder. Each of these is a serious procedure and should be treated as such. For many, it’s life-changing. You go from normal life to having to re-learn how to go to the toilet. You have to mentally adapt and obviously it takes some time to accept the situation. (Picture: Hattie Gladwell) Stoma bags sound like a scary thing. And admittedly, for anyone who doesn’t live with a bowel disease, they probably are. But once you learn more about them, you’ll realise there’s nothing to be scared of. When a person thinks of a stoma bag, they tend to think of the negatives instead of the positives – the main one being that they can be life-saving. As a person who lived with a stoma bag for ten months, I can tell you firsthand that if it weren’t for my stoma, I would be dead. I was given the stoma bag when my colon was half an hour away from exploding due to how severely diseased it was. I wasn’t given time to think about a stoma bag, as the surgery was emergency. I woke up to find something on my stomach that I knew nothing about. But over time, I got used to it. And in many ways, I had to be grateful for it. Before the stoma bag I suffered with chronic constipation. I’d go days without using the toilet and I lived on laxatives and high fibre foods. My diet was incredibly strict, I’d bleed a lot, and as a result I had low iron and was severely underweight. Having the stoma bag took this all away from me. I could use the toilet without pain. I wasn’t bloated. I could eat whatever and whenever I liked. Laxatives went in the bin. Most importantly I got my weight back up and I reached full health.
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