Tis the Season for Unexpected Leaks and Blockages
Christmas time is fast approaching, with that in mind it is time to think about what consequences the rich food and overindulgence can cause for us as ostomates.
December fills me with a serious amount of anxiety regarding food choices.
I have to remember, I am not normal, and my own digestive tract will suffer one hellish amount of consequences should I decide to eat what I want and to hell with the consequences right?! Wrong so very wrong.
What to do?
For most of us having a stoma is both life-changing and gives us relief from what we were suffering with prior to the stoma formation. There are many ostomates that have a very varied and normal diet yet some ostomates can’t eat a varied diet and may be filled with anxiety regarding what they can or can’t try.
I have a general rule and that is I try limited quantities of a specific food 3 times, if after this my stoma is coping and ok then it stays on my mental I can eat list. If it causes issues or my stoma slows or I know I am blocked then that stays on my no chance list.
I am four years in with a well-seasoned stoma, she’s been through the mill but I can now eat sweetcorn, popcorn, onions and a fair amount of vegetables, I can still eat berries, however, skinned raw apples and pears are still on the no list as well as oranges and satsumas, I still have not attempted grapes or pineapple due to being hospitalized for a rather epic blockage with my first stoma.
My disclaimer for this: the best advice I can give is CHEW, CHEW, CHEW. If you don’t think it’s worth the risk, then PLEASE DON’T EAT IT!
- – Cabbage- causes excess wind
- – Brussels – causes excess wind
- – Nuts- fortune favours the brave. I myself can’t eat these but others can
- – Satsumas, oranges – due to the skins these have the potential to cause a blockage
- – Onions
- – Stuffing- excess wind
- – Chocolate – all those tins of chocolate can have a laxative effect and cause the stoma to flush. Small quantities are fine, just not the whole tin
- – Dried Fruits
- – Pineapple
- – Coconut
- – Mince pies- love these but please be careful and chew well
Dealing with a blockage
Some of us have experienced a blockage or two during stoma life, I have had a fair few over the years, back in the early days this was due to lack of education, these days I know what I should and shouldn’t be eating.
How do you know if you have a blockage?
Here are the symptoms you may experience:
- – Swollen abdomen
- – Nausea
- – Your stoma may show sign of swelling and colour change
- – Dry mouth
- – Decreased urine output
- – In severe cases, you may be vomiting
How to pass the blockage at home
- – Increase your fluids, concentrated fresh fruit juice, coffee, hot tea, or carbonated drinks might help
- – Gently massage around your stoma site and help to push out the blockage
- – Have a hot bath or try using a heat pad, as this may help your abdominal muscles relax so you can pass a bowel movement.
- – If your stoma appears more swollen than usual, it may worth checking if the hole of your pouch needs to be cut slightly larger
- – Try lying down and lifting your knees to your chest, rolling gently from side to side.
- – For people with a colostomy, your GP or Stoma Care Nurse may prescribe some laxatives, use these as prescribed and don’t forget to drink plenty of water with these as it will help them work better.
If none of these work, ie if you have had no output for 8-12 hrs, the abdominal pain is increasing or you’re still vomiting you need to get to A&E.
For those of you worried about increased output over the festive period, this could potentially be caused by the amount you’re eating, the more you eat then the frequency of output will also increase.
Alcohol & fizzy drinks
- – Beer & lagers – Can cause excess wind
- – Fizzy drinks – Can cause excess wind (please bear in mind diet versions can cause the stoma to flush more frequently)
Alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation, this has both a diuretic effect as well as causing dehydration. Plus, no one likes a hangover.
There may well be a chance that increased food consumption, alcohol intake and christmas shenanigans may lead to a leak. I’m not saying it will happen, I am just saying that it may happen.
Mine is normally due to pancaking due to increased carb consumption.
Increased consumption alongside fatty foods can cause your output to be greasier than normal.
- – Make sure you clean your site thoroughly when changing, warm water, water wipes or wipes provided by your delivery company will suffice, please avoid using baby wipes as these control oils and moisturizers as these affect the adhesion of the baseplate
- – If you feel that itch, just change it, winging it can lead to a leak as the itch is normally a precursor to output having breached the baseplate and the output sitting on your stoma site
- – Baby oil or a stoma bag lubricant added to the inside of your bag can help to prevent pancaking
Christmas at the relatives
If you are relatively new to stoma life then the best advice I can give is to put in your food requests with the people hosting that particular day, so you can be relaxed and at ease and not have to worry about questions to leftover food.
Packing a stoma kit is usually advisable over the period as one to many sherbets or being just plain tired can cause plans to change and you staying over for the night. I usually pack enough to last me 3 changes to account for the odd mishap or just needing to change my bag.
I am hoping this will help you all through the Christmas period.
Many thanks for reading
This blog post is intended to give advice to ostomates. The information given is based on Louise’s personal experience and should not be taken as clinical advice. Each ostomates needs are unique to them and their stoma care routine. Please consult with your Stoma Care Nurse before undertaking any changes to your stoma care routine or if you are experiencing any health issues.