My crappiest week to date, metaphorically and literally

This stoma bag thing is all about confidence.

At first it’s about building your confidence around handling and changing the bag. You need to be competent before being discharged but there’s a big difference between competent and confident. Like all processes there is no shortcut and it’s about developing a routine and practice. You learn on the job, it’s like an apprenticeship except the stoma nurses leave you to get on with it and your zen master is at the end of a phone. But they are there for you so there is no point being proud, afraid or ashamed just pick up the phone and ask.

The hardest part about confidence is then the confidence in the bag, will it fall off, will it leak and dump my shit down my trousers. Unfortunately, the answer is probably yes at some point in time. I was 16 days in before my first leak and then I had 14 in 9 days 3 of which were of the dumping down the trouser variety. Luckily for all of these I was at home and we don’t have carpet on the floor!

But it is a real kick in the teeth to your confidence, a case of 2 steps forwards, 4 steps backwards. So, I called the stoma nurse who came out a day later with a variety of products, convex base plates, worked on one side, but wouldn’t stick on the other side, in the end we went with additional tape to secure the problematic side.It didn’t really work.

Building confidence is a matter of small steps, short walks, going shopping, meeting a friend for coffee, going out for a meal with your partner, going to the pub with your mates, small steps.

My real issue was the fact that once it was 20% full it felt like it had a life of it’s own, swinging under your shirt and as it got fuller that sensation increased. You find yourself looking to check it’s ok and for 16 days it always was, then the leaks. But before that I had got to the stage of when it reached a certain level and I was out in public I would end up cradling the bloody thing while walking along, so something had to change.

Googling unearthed stoma belts some of which you can get on prescription. But the prescription ones where just that, a narrow belt with a vertical pouch secured at the top. So now you had 2 bags that could dangle when they were 30% full.

Or you could pay for something a bit more robust, more of a narrow cummerbund, in a stretch material with a wider enclosed pouch with a zip in which you insert your stoma bag. It does require you to wear your bag horizontally which has some pros and cons. Pro – your bag isn’t as low so it does not interfere with the waist band of your underwear or trousers. Cons – gravity is ineffective so you have to ‘massage’ the contents along to the side.

I bought 2, £138, it seems a lot of money for 2 cumberbunds but what price confidence? Believe me, to paraphrase a certain credit card ad, priceless.

Food highlight of the week – Smoked Haddock Risotto

Food lowlight of the week – Broccoli

Highlight of the week – my first post op beer!

Lowlight of the week – dumping crap down my trousers, those bloody leaks.

Looking forward to – resolving the leak issues.

Thanks for reading.


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A 50 something film and digital photographer based in Kendal, Cumbria. Blogging about mental health, mental wellbeing, living with a colostomy and music memories.

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