It was day two for me in the hospital, my stoma nurse was at my bedside ready to show me how to change my colostomy bag for the first time. He had a great personality, was a good teacher, and was so patient with me. We laughed and laughed about how awful I was at cutting out a circle on my flange. I blamed it on all the medications they had me on. Overall, it went quick and easy. I cut out my circle, peeled off the plastic, stuck it to my stomach and wah-lah! My first bag change went perfect. I remember thinking that was too easy. I can soooo do that when I get home. I got this!
Well….it didn’t go anything like that when I got home. The hospital was the perfect set up. The bed is adjustable which helps you can get in the perfect position, you have very minimal bowel movements if any, and you have a nurse telling you what to do the whole time.
For me it was a complete disaster with my bag changes for a few weeks after I came home. I wasted so many flanges because of my mistakes. It would take me forever to change because my output was literally going everywhere. My skin would stay irritated. I was overwhelmed with all the sample stuff that I had. How in the world do I use a bottle of stoma powder? What is the ring thing for? Where do I put paste and how much do I use? How long should my bag really last? Do I have to change it everyday?
I had a ton of sample products and didn’t know how to use most of it. The three things I knew exactly how to use was the bag, flange, and scissors. Ugh! I began watching videos and reading other people’s stories. I did it for hours trying to figure out what all these different products were and how in the world they would work for me. Eventually, I did find out the best products for me, before long I was making emergency bag changes at work, my friends house, and even in public restrooms (Yuck! really don’t like this one). So for you my new ostomy friend, there is hope.
It is okay that you don’t know what you are doing when you get home from the hospital. It will take you sometime to figure it all out. We are all so different; shape of our stoma, how sensitive our skins is, where our stoma is, and our eagerness to learn and change. It’s definitely all trial and error. Just keep trying new things and being open-minded about products. Please don’t settle on what you get sent home with from the hospital or what your home health nurse gives you. Contact the ostomy companies and request samples of products to try. Once you find the right combination you will have the confidence that you need to get back to doing what you love.