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  • Colostomy questions

    Hi, I've read numerous threads here regarding colostomies, and it has been something I've been considering more and more. I have a few questions I'm hoping can be answered:

    1. Is the bag visible through clothing?
    2. My work involves communicating with individuals, often in small, quiet settings. Will I need to be concerned about noticeable sounds/smells?
    3. I have a lot of bloating due to retained gas. Will this be alleviated with the colostomy, and will I then need to be concerned about an inflated bag?
    4. Are there any issues with airplane travel?

  • #2
    If you have a lot of gas, you may have issues with noise (although usually not as much as with anal farts!), and the bag can inflate and bulge so that it shows through clothing if your shirt is tight-fitting. The same is true if you accumulate a large amount of stool in your bag and don't empty it in time.

    You should discuss these issues with the ostomy nurse (usually an RN with a CWOCN) that you should be meeting with prior to your surgery. You may need to make dietary modifications or take some medications to help with the gas. Your ostomy nurse should also be able to direct you to appliances/bags that have gas release valves (with a charcoal filter to control odor), and that are easy for you to empty.

    (KLD)
    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

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    • #3
      Hi, I am 8 weeks post today. Still healing and figuring it all out. I was not prepared for the healing process, but time and patience helps and I can see things getting better every day. With it's newness in mind, here's how I'd answer your questions:
      1st, remember everyone is different and there are many products available for you to find the right stuff for you based on trial & error.

      1 - If you wear really form fitting cloths you might see a slight bulge. This will depend on many factors, including where your stoma ends up, your cloths, how full you let the bag get. When I tuck mine into yoga pants (pretty form fitting & what I live in), you really can't see anything. Before I had it done, some very kind people sent me samples to try so I can get an idea. If you'd like to try some stuff, pm me. I'd love to pay it forward.

      2 - They have filters on some bags and deodorizing fluids you can put in the bags. I have only experienced odors while changing bags (unavoidable, just like going to the bathroom, naturally). I do have loud gas on fairly rare occasions, but was told by an ostomy nurse that you can minimize this by placing your hand over the stoma while its happening if you can catch it. I think diet can help with this, too.

      3- For 27 years, I have suffered from not being able to regularly expel gas. Definitely not the case anymore - and a total pro! If you have a filtered bag, this should let the gas escape. "Burping" the bag is easy if necessary.

      4 - I fly in July & will let you know.

      Peace
      "We must become the change we want to see in the world." Gandhi

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      • #4
        Thank you! Prior to the colostomy, did you find you were bloated b/c of the retained gas, and was it resolved with the colostomy (though now in the bag)?

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        • #5
          Because I wear a fanny pack when I'm out, my bag doesn't show-it's behind the FP
          In fact, it covers me up enough that on those occasions that the chocolate factory goes into overtime production, I can pull my shirt out of my pants in front, and bring the bottom half of the bag up as well, so I can keep track of filling, etc, and plan a trip to the bathroom.
          Also, on the very rare occasions I've pumped mud (runny/diarrhea), I'll fold a bag and leave it in my shirt pocket in case I have to do a hot splice (quick change while the service is still on)
          69yo male T12 complete since 1995
          NW NJ

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          • #6
            as far as being visible that depends on the clothing you wear. generally if you wear tight fitting clothing yes it will be visible. i generally wear very loose fitting clothing so it isn't visible so much as far as gas i can't tell you but alot depends on the type of foods you eat. no issues while flying just make sure your empty before you board aircraft. and i have a urostomy so i tend not to drink so much the day prior and the day of that way i won't have to empty on flight. check the UOAA.org pageant go to the forum's on there. tons of info.
            T6 Incomplete due to a Spinal cord infarction July 2009

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            • #7
              What really helped me with gas and looser stool was taking one immodium in the morning. Still get gas but not nearly as bad as I used to. As for it showing; well there is a bulge there.I keep my shirt out and that helps a lot. I always have three extra bags wrapped in two paper towels each placed in seperate disposal bags in my seat pouch for the times I need them. Have had a Sigmoid Loop Colostomy for 8 years.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by landrover View Post
                Thank you! Prior to the colostomy, did you find you were bloated b/c of the retained gas, and was it resolved with the colostomy (though now in the bag)?
                Yes, gas was bloating, painful and caused slight AD regularly. Plus, I never knew if it was just gas, y'know, so always caused anxiety and insecurity. I am still really early in this process, and I can't say I'm not still bloated but could be post-abdominal surgery swelling. I do know that I pass gas when needed. I am also having bad female problems in the region, and can't say that is not the source of my "fullness".

                It might help if I knew your gender and injury level, years post sci...?
                "We must become the change we want to see in the world." Gandhi

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                • #9
                  I agree with everyone. Unfortunately everyone is different so what works for me might not work for you. Gas is gas! Some days I won't have any and some days I have a lot. I'm sure what you eat will determine that. Before getting my colostomy 4 years ago I would get AD symptoms from gas now I don't. I wear my shirts out so the bag is covered. I always have supplies in my backpack just in case I need it changed.

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                  • #10
                    Been interesting reading following the accounts and advice of others on this. Booked the next step and well be speaking with an Ostomy nurse on the 10th.

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                    • #11
                      One of my concerns is that if there are issues, I don't always have someone available to deal with said issue.

                      BTW, I am C4/5 complete male, 24 yrs post.

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                      • #12
                        Just curious on what folks prefer.. 1 piece or 2 piece system?

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                        • #13
                          I never considered a one piece. Seems it would be a PITA.
                          With the two piece, I can unsnap the top of the bag-ring, and see what is going on!

                          Sometimes it's not safe to just pop it off; I may need to fold up a toilet paper and put it under the intersection of bag and flange.
                          I try to empty the bag and keep using it if it's not gooey in there
                          And if needed, I can change bags real fast if something's going on. I don't think the one-piece bags give you that flexibility.
                          Flanges normally last me a week; I'm sure I could go longer sometimes but why risk take?
                          69yo male T12 complete since 1995
                          NW NJ

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                          • #14
                            Totally agree with pfcs49. They sent me home from the hospital with a 1 piece. As a functional c6, The 1 piece would never work for me independently. There's a lot of fine motor skill involved with clipping, rolling, squeezing stuff out. I could see that getting ugly really fast. 2 piece is a snap, literally. And so far, I always place a paper towel right there in case...
                            "We must become the change we want to see in the world." Gandhi

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                            • #15
                              I put a trash sack on lap then use a ingles or Walmart plastic bag underneath bag have toilet paper ready and suppies that way just in cast its not going all over me put in bag tie dispose of neat efficent

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