Out of the Bag: Broken bones

Ostomy ostomies out of the bag Stolen Colon crohn's blog

It has been more than 5 weeks since I broke my wrist while riding my bike. (Read how it happened HERE) I actually have another appointment with the orthopedic tomorrow and I am praying that the cast will come off!

At this point, my arm feels really good, but dealing with the cast has been a major pain. I have a difficult time fitting my arm through any of my winter clothes; it gets very hot when I’m working out; my hand has become so dry due the weather and I’m not able to put lotion on much of it. But this cast is nothing compared to the splint I had on for the first week after I broke my wrist.

stephanie hughes splint broken arm radius ulna bones stolen colon crohns ostomy blogHere’s a picture I took that week that I had it on. You can’t even tell from this picture, though, how obtrusive this thing was. It wrapped around my elbow and extended all the way passed my knuckles.  I could hardly do anything with it on. Once I had it wrapped around my arm, one of my first thoughts was, “how am I going to deal with my ostomy with this on?”

The accident happened on Saturday and thankfully I had just put on a new bag on Friday. I was praying the whole week that the bag would last until I got the split off. But even then, I didn’t know how I would deal with the daily issues or with changing the bag once I had the cast on. (And yes, the bag did last me a whole week and I was able to get the splint off on Thursday… honestly, I don’t know what I would have done if it hadn’t lasted.)

I had to be very careful with emptying the bag that first week. I had very little use of my right hand/arm and you really do need two hands to empty the bag. Basically, I used my right hand to keep the bag in place while using the left to push out the contents. Cleaning the end was a bit more precarious and I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t make a mess at times, but it was doable.

Once I got the cast on the next week, things were a bit easier. I had more control over my fingers and could move my elbow, too. Getting everything out with only one hand is still a bit difficult, but I can manage. The bigger issue was once the bag change came up. I don’t order pre-cut bags because the ones I have tried hadn’t fit quite right, so I still have to cut the opening every time. Now, I’ve gotten pretty good at doing most things with my left hand, but even after more than a month, I still can’t figure out how to use scissors with my left hand. I can’t line up the blade correctly or something like that and it just doesn’t work.

So that first time I had to change it, I had my husband cut the opening. Bless his heart, it was a pretty jagged opening. I was able to use my right hand just a little bit to smooth it out some, but I decided to do it myself from them on. It was still difficult because I could close the scissors with my right hand but I couldn’t open them. I would have to open with my left hand and close with my right for each cut. (Frustrating!) But now I’m to the point where I can do it all with my right hand.

Outside of the cutting, it really hasn’t been that difficult to change the bag. It took a little time to get accustomed to using my left hand to clean the area and put on the paste, but I have that under control now. I do like to cup my hands over the bag right after I put it on to help it adhere better, and that’s hard to do with one hand, but not a big deal.

So all in all, it has taken some getting used to and been annoying, but taking care of my ostomy has still been manageable with a broken wrist. Although, I can’t express how excited I am at the prospect of getting this thing off my arm tomorrow. Here’s hoping!

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Out of the Bag: Blockages

Ostomy ostomies out of the bag Stolen Colon crohn's blogA couple of months back, I wrote a post on here about dealing with some minor blockage pain. The other night, I got a rude awakening. I was dead asleep, but was woken up around 2:30 in the morning with a horrible pain in my stomach and the feeling that I was going to throw up. On top of that I had a very full bag that was entirely liquid.

On any given night, I may wake up once to empty my bag, but it’s usually after 4 a.m. Oftentimes, I don’t have to deal with it at all until I wake up for the day.

I got up to empty the bag, but couldn’t shake the nauseous feeling. I even took a zofran (for the nausea), but it made absolutely no difference. About 20 minutes after emptying the bag, it had filled up with liquid again. Altogether, in about an hour’s time, I emptied the bag 4 times, the final two times it was clear liquid. At first, I had thought I had food poisoning, but by this point I was pretty sure it was a blockage.

I tried massaging my stomach, which seemed to help after a while. I had also heard that you should try moving into different positions to help move things around. The only other thing I could think of would be to take a warm bath, the try to relax the stomach muscles, but it was the middle of the night and I was still half asleep. I was very concerned at the time that I would have to go to the emergency room.

The best thing I found was to relax as best as I could and keep rubbing my stomach. Eventually, I was able to get things moving again and even fall back asleep. The next morning, I still felt a little out of sorts and was putting out only liquid. I had a smoothie and coffee for breakfast, just to help things along. It wasn’t until the afternoon that things got back to normal.

It was a really scary night and honestly, it hurt worse than I had imagined. The hardest part is just not knowing what to do. The last thing I want to do is to head to the hospital in the middle of the night when there’s no real need. But I also don’t want to cause any bigger issues because I don’t want to do that.

This has made me realize even more how important it is to be careful while I eat and to thoroughly chew everything. And possibly the most important thing: drink lots of water!

Let’s get real about ostomies

Thank you all for your votes in my poll for my new blog series. And per your input….

Ostomy ostomies out of the bag Stolen Colon crohn's blog

My hope for this series is to discuss openly and honestly what it’s like living your day-to-day life with an ostomy. Although you really can live a very “normal” life while having an ostomy, there are still a number of things you have to consider every day. Whether it be eating, dressing or travelling, you have to change some of the things you and do and the way you think when you have a bag hanging off of your stomach.

But the thing to also realize, is even though you are having to change some things, there really is a way to make it all work. I can’t think of anything that I’ve wanted to do but haven’t been able to since I have an ostomy. I’m excited to dive into some of these topics and perhaps bring in some other ostomy experts on certain topics.

Look for my first “Ostomies: Out of the Bag” post… coming soon!