Hey there. Hi. I’m Brevin and I’m about to blow your mind with this post, a roller-coaster ride of emotions and plot twists all involving the mystery of a missing colon. Mine! And now that I over-hyped it, be ready for a let-down. This Monday, the 13th, I’m going in for takedown, the surgery where they remove the temporary ileostomy and connect the plumbing back to the J-Pouch. I went in for a weird enema/x-ray hybrid as part of the pre-op so they can check if the J-Pouch has any leaks. The procedure wasn’t so bad, but of course the attractive radiologist just happened to be working that day. Nothing impresses a lady like softly weeping while they shove an inflatable contrast tube up your bare bum like it’s Balloon Animals 101 at a Clown College in Brevinville. My pride aside, the enema/x-ray thing had great news: No leaks. It’s surgery time.
Left: Hey, the J-Pouch is "J" shaped! Right: The red line is close to where everything is now connected. If I had a leak, the white contrast would be spilling out
Yeah apparently time flies, because it’s time to retire Stomie “Squirt” Stoma, PI from his day job as a wannabe Private Investigator, not to mention from his moonlighting gig as a temp loop ileostomy. His contract with the temp agency just ended. Check out what I learned from hanging out with Squirt, PI: #1: Marshmallows are both lifesavers and delicious. Fellow J-Pouch site contributor Jamie once told me “Brevin, that’s illegal and I recommend you don’t ever bring that up again.” She also then told me that eating marshmallows before a bag change is a great, tasty way of preventing an active stoma. I don’t know the exact edible science behind this, but it slows down your digestive system and makes the bag change routine a lot less messy and complicated. So far this has worked wonders for me. The moral of the story is that marshmallows are awesome and the Ghostbusters are jerks for killing that big innocent marshmallow dude. #2: The Perfect Bag Change. Everyone’s bag change process is different, but here is mine for a one-piece. I wake up, start eating three marshmallows (no breakfast), and lay out my supplies on a little table right next to the shower. Supplies include a new ileostomy bag (with the end already sealed up), the Wafer paste/caulk stuff, Stoma Powder, No Sting Skin Barrier, Kanalog spray, paper towel, and a trash bag. Sometimes I also have a sword nearby, in case a dragon shows up. While still chewing the marshmallows, I throw my awesome heat-sock into the microwave for 3 minutes. The heat-sock is literally an old sock that my mum filled with uncooked rice. When you microwave the heat-sock, the rice becomes heated and the sock allows the shape to be flexible. I throw it in for three minutes, because after the bag change it will be the right temperature, but we’ll get back to that. I get into the shower and wet some paper towel to start wiping/pushing at the existing wafer to take the old bag off. I don’t use Adhesive Removal wipes because my skin is a tad too sensitive. Once the bag is off, I throw it in the trash bag and say some one-liners from movies to it, like “See you in Hell, sucka”. I clean the stoma with a wet paper towel, while whispering sweet nothings to it. This appeases Stomie, and I then finish the shower while singing adult contemporary hits from the early 80s. With the shower done, I carefully dry around the stoma area and spray some Kenalog spray on the skin around the stoma (protecting the stoma by placing the paper towel around it like a wall). The Kenalog spray is for my irritated, itchy red skin, so you might not need this. I then put on a layer of Stoma Powder (spreading it out with a dry piece of paper towel, like evenly “painting” the powder on), followed by a layer of No Sting Skin Barrier. Once the skin barrier is dry enough on the skin, I put on another layer of powder and skin barrier. While that settles, I apply a very thin layer of paste to the inside edge of the wafer. I try to even it out with my finger to keep it smooth, but sometimes the paste loves to stick to my finger. In case you’re interested, I use Pre-Cut 1 inch opening bags, although I’m going to keep those little scissors for arts and crafts. With the skin prepped and the bag ready to be put on, I carefully place the new bag on over the stoma and press firmly. I also run my finger along that inner edge closest to the stoma and press down to make sure the paste is making full contact. At this point, I strap on the ol’ support belt to help keep the new bag in place and I get the heat-sock from the microwave. The heat-sock is now at a temp that’s warmer than my hand, but not a boiling hot sock full of lava straight form the sun. Please don’t put something too hot near your stoma, you’ll only cause damage. I plop down in the Lazy-Boy chair, recline all the way down, cover the new bag with the heat-sock and let the wafer and paste bond with the skin. The added heat source is a nice-hands-free perk. This takes about 15 minutes, consisting of me watching TV. So there you go. No fuss, no hassle, simple. And I’m zero leaks so far! This sounds great and all, but what makes it the “perfect” bag change? Because I then win the lottery. Twice. #3: The Lazy-Boy and the Track Pants. When I escaped the hospital after surgery one, I spent a lot of time in the recliner at home. If you recline all the way it almost mimics a hospital bed, so you’re not completely flat. This feels better, and for some reason I just kept sleeping in it up to now. I’ve also been wearing the same Adidas track pants this entire time whenever I go out. The waist is nice and elastic to accommodate the baggy and people think you just came form the gym, so you automatically look cool. Don’t worry, I wash the pants very frequently. Sheesh. #4: Poo: Variety is the Spice of Life. I’ve seen everything come out of that bag by now. From liquid that looks like iced tea to what can only be described as thick baby food that exploded in the microwave. Colors ranging from orange to yellow to green. Even smells that could kill a level 40 Tauren (for all you WoW nerds). And I’m glad. Because I know I will be an excellent dad one day, since I won’t be phased by diaper changes. Ever. #5: Diet! I didn’t experience any blockage. Not once. Either I got lucky, or I can attribute this to my strict diet and chewing food a billion times per bite. I am very anal about what I currently eat (”anal”, ha! see what I did there? I swear every paragraph is about poo and butts over here). I did my best to stick with foods on the “ok to eat” list and avoided everything else. All you need is a vegetable peeler and a lot of chewing time. I ate plenty of yams and potatoes, sticking with fish and chicken for my meat at dinner. Yeah, I ate a butt load of burgers, but I took off the lettuce, onion, pickles and tomatoes. I also avoided the buns with sesame seeds on it. Pasta was pretty common too. I’m very proud of myself for somehow avoiding hot dogs this entire time, although the sweet irony with the diet is salad. I can’t stand salad and never eat it. But now that’s it a forbidden food, I’m craving it like mad. On a side note: I weighed myself today and I’m 171.5lbs!! This is a huge win for me, since this is the closest I’ve gotten to my pre-UC weight in over half a decade. I’m ecstatic. At my sickest (during a huge UC flare-up), I would drop down to 150.
So I’m ready for Takedown I suppose. Apparently there are supplies I should bring with, including: baby wipes, the softest toilet paper I can find with aloe, barrier cream (A&D ointment and other “butt cream”), a wooden stake to fight off a vampire, and chewing gum. I’m going to try the chewing gum tip (unscientifically references here ). So until Monday morning 6:05 AM PST, I’ll be doing Kegel exercises. 1013… 1014… 1015… ngh… I’m doing so many… 1016… 1017…