Many colorectal patients get a stoma at one point in their treatment journey. A stoma is an opening that a surgeon makes through an abdominal wall such that stool can be emptied through there.
Trauma to the intestines, cancer in the intestines, inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis, and diverticulitis are some reasons why people may get a stoma.
There are different types of stomas; ileostomy and colostomy. Both colostomy and Ileostomy can be temporary or permanent depending on the underlining cause.
A permanent ileostomy is usually done when the whole colon is removed. Often the ileostomy is placed in the right lower quadrant. Living with an ileostomy for the first time can take a toll on your loved one’s mental health.
An ileostomy produces thin stool, often many times during the day. In the beginning, there may be leakages and accidents; requiring your loved one to change the bag often during the day.
The colon extracts fluid from the food, with it being removed, water loss is high. Medication in tablet form can be observed when emptying the stoma bag. The lower the ileostomy is placed, the thicker the stool.
In the start, the stoma may be swollen, but the size usually decreases. Your loved one may start with a stoma bag with a larger opening of around 55 mm in diameter.
Gradually the stoma may decrease in size, your loved one will need a smaller diameter.
Can Your Loved One Eat Normally With A Stoma?
It is advisable to avoid certain types of foods, i.e. foods with larger fiber strands, foods that cause lots of gas; asparagus, beans, peas, onions, mushrooms, boiled eggs, broccoli to mention a few.
Foods with stringy fibers like asparagus, oranges, popcorn, and raw vegetables can get stuck in the stoma. They can also produce lots of gas, causing leakages and explosion accidents and obstructions. Your loved one will gradually figure out what foods go well with their stoma.
Due to the high loss of fluid via ileostomy, care receivers tend to become dehydrated. The more a person drinks fluids, the more fluid is lost through the ileostomy. It recommended consuming foods with a higher water content i.e. watermelon.
Some ostomates (a term for people living with a stoma) found that consuming starchy foods and then drinking water or other fluids leads to thicker output.
High loss of fluid can cause complications like fluid imbalances and kidney failure. It is advisable to note how many times the care-receiver empties the stoma bag, and how many times they urinate. With a higher stoma input, there will most likely be less urine production.
Living with an ileostomy can take a toll on your spouse’s psychological health. Many people become conscious because stools are naturally a dirty thing. Leakages and accidents are prone to an ileostomy.
Many ostomates recommend carrying a small bag of supplies. I.e a change of clothes and stoma supplies.
There shouldn’t be any restrictions to living a normal life with an ileostomy. The stoma bag is water-resistant; it will not leak or detach while your spouse in the water.
An ileostomy is will not necessarily interfere with intimate life. Your loved may feel conscious and awkward, gradually they will get accustomed to the new normal.
Some ostomates use a boob tube or tube top to hold the ileostomy in place during intimate times to reduce the risk of detachment and leakage.
An ileostomy is a life-changing experience, takes some time to adjust to it. The earlier your loved one starts changing it themselves, the quicker they will adapt, they will become independent, will not feel stranded in case of an accident.