Stoma dramas

I feel really happy to now have the 4th chemo cycle behind me and only 2 more to go – the end in sight! The trip to Brisbane with my friend, Manja, was lovely! She looked after me so attentively and we had lots of fun together too. My time is really sociable these days. I love catching up with family and friends when I can between rests.

The first week of this chemo I felt fantastic again but the 2nd week I did not, unfortunately. I had 2 days feeling a bit sick, then another bellyful of chemo, followed by a night of abdominal cramps. The next morning I felt fine but by the afternoon I was in the Emergency Department at the hospital because of a prolapsed stoma. The pressure of the fluid (cytotoxin) they had pumped into my body cavity seems to have pushed my intestines out of the stoma.

As this happened late on the afternoon before our travel day, the big worry was whether the problem could be fixed quickly and not delay our trip home. Fortunately I was admitted immediately and the medical staff knew what to do. Imagine my surprise when the nurses wanted to first smear the area with honey! They also were rather amused and puzzled since their instructions to apply honey or brown sugar had come with no explanation. Later the doctors told me it’s an osmosis thing – the sugar prep helps to reduce the swelling before they poked my guts back in. I was sedated for the procedure but allowed to leave an hour later.

Then followed an unforgettable evening coping with the drama when it popped back out again and I learned to fix it myself. I wished I’d been awake to watch the experts at work. I gather they had given me some advice, but too early – I only looked like I was awake!

I hope I haven’t already given you too many details and put you off your breakfast, but just ask me if you ever need to live with an ileostomy because it has been quite a learning curve and there are plenty of handy hints I could share. Sometimes I wonder if there is ever an end to the challenges of stoma care!

So now I’m home again with the usual feelings of relief and joy to be with my family again in this beautiful place. The flight went really well yesterday and my stoma seems to be OK for now with constant attention. I feel a bit like the child with his finger in the dyke saving Holland!

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