Welcome and thanks for dropping by and reading, as the title suggests, I’m a farmer my name is Wayne 47 and now a bowel cancer survivor with a bag. My surgery involved removal of the cancer with the loss of my rectum, re routing my bowel through my stomach and the creation of a stoma allowing me to poo into a bag. My consultant was brilliant, and successfully removed all of the cancer without the need for chemotherapy, words cannot begin to describe what this has meant to me and my life going forward.
I am lucky, we run a farm stay, which allows me the flexibility to adjust my working day to suit my different way of life going forward.
This blog is intended to inform those irrigating of my journey and lessons.
A month and a half beyond surgery, I am now starting to get back to some degree of normality and fitness and have over the last three weeks started irrigating, this process involves purging water into my colon, essentially flushing it out in order to spend time without my bag, replacing it with a more discrete patch.
Learning to irrigate is not without its complications, and by no means am I an expert yet, shit happens – literally, patches and bags become detached or leak but proficiency and experience reduce this likelihood hood in time.
- I use Charter to deliver my prescription supplies, they are excellent but my surgery is not set up to process electronic prescriptions which results in delays, it’s like having to go to the toilet with no paper or chance of any anytime soon. So over order on everything you need.
This is my machine and the all important radio, as the process takes an hour to perform, the machine has an important safety feature which prevents the pump from working when plugged into the mains, which makes sense as 240v and water generally doesn’t have a good outcome, the device is filled with tap water to the required temperature, I use a hand held thermometer as it is easier to read.
The following link shows its correct use, I only found this when writing this article, but this video is really helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiEX3InByGw
I use the reusable base plate and one use bag, after removing your patch/bag, clean the stoma thou roughly and apply clinifilm to the surrounding skin of the stoma, this gives me an excellent seal and this method has not failed in any way.
I was told to use a peg to secure the bottom of the bag, this has failed with a not so nice outcome, I now use a bulldog clip to secure during irrigation, placing this in the sink just in case, and securing to the top of the bag after irrigation is complete.
- After irrigation, leave the filling cone in place for 3 mins to allow the water to remain in the colon, early removal results in ineffective irrigation. I did not do this to start with resulting in a number of accidents.
- Don’t be afraid of water discharging, simply adjust the cone position till it stops.
- Empty the bag frequently into the toilet, wipe clean and reclip.
- Multi task, I have a shave brush teeth and listen to the radio, moving about facilitates the discharge. Cut your bag or patch to stoma size now ready for application after showering.
- Exercise, I find stretching my arms above my head allows the colon to discharge, massaging my tummy does not seem to work for me.
- Get a disposal bag ready to dispose of the empty irrigation sleeve. Get your sprays and wipes ready for after your shower.
- Spend long enough in the shower, you will soil in the shower, I remove the trap to allow everything to flow out before replacing.
- Get dry but only dry your stoma with hygienic wipes.
- You will probably poo again at this stage, re shower and repeat.
- When fully dry apply clinifilm spray allow to dry, fit patch or bag if not confident on complete irrigation
I have just reverted back to daily irrigation due to accidents after evening meal times, my intent is to update this blog with further information as I learn to make this work for me, using tip number 1 above, I am now feeling more confident on this whole process working for me going forward and getting my new normality back.
I am now nearly 2 years beyond my operation Irrigation now part of my daily routine and life on the farm is good, don’t forget as your stoma heals to keep re measuring your stoma to make sure you are only cutting the hole big enough and not over sized. Wearing a patch rather than a bag feels so much better and gives more freedom, I have also started wearing a hernia support belt when working round the farm as a preventative measure, again ordered via Charter through my GP.
My consultant said that he would get me back to a normal way of life, I owe him and his team so much.
Please comment with your own experience or any tips or links you may have on successful irrigation.