Balloon Bag Alarm Clock

Posted July 2nd, 2008 by Jared Anderson
Categories: ostomy bags, ostomy care

I woke up this morning with my bag about to start leaking. This has only really happened a couple of times before, but now I have a system that works pretty well as long as I follow it.

While I sleep, my bag usually starts to fill up with gas. Some days it’s faster than others. And it seems to happen even if I use a filtered (vented) bag since I am laying down and the contents of the bag often sit right in front of the filter. The bag sometimes fills up with gas during the day also, but I try to follow the same principle: empty it before the pressure starts to pull at the seal too much.

So basically I have a “ballon bag alarm clock”. When it gets too full of air, I go to the bathroom and empty it out. This usually works out just right as it’s about time to wake up anyway. But if I ignore it for too long, the air pressure builds up and starts to pull at the seal, which is what happened this morning.

As long as I follow that simple idea, I usually get several days of wear, but if I ignore the bag for too long and let the pressure build up, disaster looms just up ahead 🙂


Posted July 1st, 2008 by Jared Anderson
Categories: activities, food, general, ostomy care, successful actions

It’s been hot recently and so I have been wondering if I would have problems with my salt and potassium levels, since that can be a problem for some people with ostomies. One of the colon’s jobs is to absorb minerals and since I don’t have one anymore, I figured that could be a problem.

It’s also come up in one of my ostomy discussion groups lately. Some of the people have low potassium levels and so have to take pills and some are just fine. I think it goes to show how much have an osomy can vary from person to person.

Anyway, I’ve always known that the proper balance of salt and potassium is needed to handle hot weather or a lot of exertion well, since sweating can release it. And I know salt holds the water in the cells and that potassium helps it get out. So my plan of action over the past many years, though my colitis, is that if I noticed myself starting to get a bit puffy, or my skin starts to feel like it can’t “breathe”, I just took some potassium tablets. And that seemed to be enough for me. (Salt is very rarely a problem for me because I am a big salter of my foods–I really like the stuff).

That same principle seems to be working well for me with an ostomy. Ever since my surgery, I’ve been eating more bananas, just because I crave them slightly (and we always have a bunch of them around since my daughter really likes them also). I eat about one a day usually. And that seems to have pretty much handled any “potassium depletion symptoms”.

There have been a couple of days lately where it has topped 95+ degrees, and I started to feel that “swollen” feeling, so I just took about 500mg of potassium (just general store brand, nothing special) to “head it off at the pass”, and I was fine for the rest of the day.

Numb Stomach

Posted June 30th, 2008 by Jared Anderson
Categories: ileostomy, recovery

I was warned before my surgery that I might have a numb spot on my stomach afterward. I wasn’t too worried about it, especially with how I was feeling, and since I figured the feeling would come back eventually.

It’s now been approximately four months since my surgery. Everything else is pretty well healed up and I am able to do what I want. But there’s still a numb spot below my stoma on the “inside” part of my stomach, meaning between my belly button and the stoma. I guess if you were to take the six pack of stomach muscles (yea, wishing there since I haven’t even started exercising again yet!), I guess you would say the “inside” half of the bottom right one is numb (about a one-two inch square area). It feels sort of like your mouth feels after having your gums numbed for some dental work. It doesn’t hurt, and I can definitely still sense things there, but no real “feeling”. The sensations I can get are probably from surrounding nerves and the changes in other things, like the position of my ostomy bag or shirt, when I’m touched there.

Oh well. I can’t say that I ever really noticed feelings there before, so it’s not really much of a loss. But it is one of the small differences in living with an ileoostomy. And I can’t imagine it would even get better if I decided to get “put back together” since the nerves are already severed.

Another Ostomy Scissors Source

Posted June 29th, 2008 by Jared Anderson
Categories: ostomy bags, ostomy care

My wife is a very dedicated “urban homesteader”. She’s cooking and raising animals and doing a great job at it. And one of the incidental effects of this is that she was at the farm supply store (Wilco where we live) looking at castration supplies for her goats. Being a guy, the topic of castration isn’t my favorite topic, but she had read my previous post on ostomy scissors, so she told me about the blunt nosed scissors there as a possible option.

I went in myself later in the week to buy something else and checked it out, and they look like a very viable pair of ostomy scissors, though I haven’t tried them. They weren’t curved, but they were only $7.99. So if anyone is looking for another pair of affordable ostomy scissors, the farm store might be a place to look at.

Farm supply store


Castration supplies section

My new “walking shoes”

Posted June 29th, 2008 by Jared Anderson
Categories: activities, clothes

I mentioned the other day about needing to update my wardrobe a bit with my new state of health, but I didn’t mention that I had started already. A couple weeks ago, I bought new shoes. That was pretty exciting! I don’t think I have had a new pair since high school (almost a decade ago), since I didn’t really need them with my sedentary job and minimal active activities.They aren’t fancy, but after traveling to New York and walking everywhere, my feet hurt like mad, so I went and picked up some new shoes. So far I’ve only worn them a couple times, like when I went golfing, but it’s nice to have the option to have something comfortable to wear now that I can be more active.

At a loss for words

Posted June 27th, 2008 by Jared Anderson
Categories: general, humor

This may be a bit of a crude topic, but being the kind of guy that I am, I’ve come up with a problem that I’m guessing most ostomates never even worry about. What to call what comes out of me? I’m a writer and I like to understand words and to use them correctly, but I so far haven’t been able to find the proper word for whatever it is that ends up in my ostomy bag.

It’s definitely not s*&t, crap, poop, caca or any of the other names for a normal person’s feces. And it’s not “chyme”, that’s the food after it’s been digested in the stomach and first enters the intestine. I guess it could be “effluence”, stuff that flows out, but that seems sort of silly.

Anyway, I’m going to keep looking to see what I can come up with. Otherwise, I’m going to take this opportunity to coin a new word!

Buying New Clothes

Posted June 27th, 2008 by Jared Anderson
Categories: clothes, general, weight

Over the past several years I wasn’t doing very well. And as such, I lost a lot of weight and my clothes were very loose. My pants that had fit properly before were getting quite loose so that I pretty much had to wear a belt to keep them up. (It actually made going to the bathroom every few hours much easier since I didn’t have to unbutton my pants, but could just push them down.) I actually started to think that one pair of pants must have just been really large to start with because they were really large. But as I got sicker and sicker, I cared less and less how I looked so I didn’t really buy any new clothes.

But now that I am gaining my weight back and am passing the 150 mark, I’m going to have to start shopping again as a bunch of my clothes don’t fit any more. And I am back to caring what I look like, so I guess soon I’ll be visit a clothes store to pick up some new things. I guess what I have would be in style as they actually “fit”, but they are sort of tight and the shirts only come past my belt line by an inch or two. And that’s not very workable when I’m not into advertising my ileostomy bag. So I’ll be shopping for some new shirts that are a little larger and loose fitting. And if I gain any more weight, I’ll be shopping for some new pants with an increased waistline.

Ulcerative Colitis Successful Actions

Posted June 26th, 2008 by Jared Anderson
Categories: food, successful actions, ulcerative colitis

While I had colitis there were a couple of things that I did that really helped me along. And though they didn’t cure me, they sure made life much more normal and helped put me into or maintain remissions if I didn’t screw around too long before doing them. Some of them lost their effectiveness for me, but they might be able to help someone else with the disease so I thought I would give them in a series. Here is the first one:

When I first got sick, I got hooked up with a chiropractor that had helped cure an ex-girlfriend of colitis years earlier. I followed his advice and actually turned things around and was in remission for several months before eating a bunch of celery and ripping things up a bit. His advice was to eliminate sugars and wheat entirely. And to take some of Dr. Shulze’s Intestinal Formula #2 (mixed with some other similar product with flax seeds that I can’t remember the name of) and Superfood That meant basically vegetables, meats and tofu. I couldn’t quite make it on this as I got too hungry between meals, so we modified it so that I had some grits (made of corn) for breakfast and I allowed myself apple juice to drink, corn chips as snacks and some all natural rye bread for toast and sandwiches.

He also recommended a stool test and then taking some herbs to handle whatever was found (the test I had done was at the Great Smokies lab in North Carolina, but I’ve heard they were bought out by another company and so aren’t very good anymore). The test I had found Klebsiella (I don’t know which exact kind) and the recommended “natural”, i.e. no prescription needed, handling was to take Uva Ursi. So I ended up taking some hydrochloric acid (basically stomach acid) to assist in my digestion, the Uva Ursi to handle the bug and then stuck to the diet very strictly.

I did all of this while weaning of the prednisone and sulfasalazine that the doctor had put me on. By the time I was done with those medicines, I was totally fine. Back to one bowel movement a day, back to my previous weight of about 135 and back to feeling well.

And like I said, this worked very well. I was able to work really hard at graduating and handle any and all stress with no problems. I only lost it when I unthinkingly took a ton of raw celery to work and ate it as a snack all day long and ripped things up some and started a period of ups and downs.

Left over stuff

Posted June 25th, 2008 by Jared Anderson
Categories: food, general, ulcerative colitis

When I had ulcerative colitis, I tried just about everything anyone could think of to fix it, and I’m sure this is true of many people with that or similar diseases. I tried acupuncture, special diets, IV therapy, herbal treatments and tons of different vitamins and minerals and other supplements.

But each one didn’t handle the situation, so I would move on to the next one. And now that I am free from colitis, I have a entire shelf stuffed to the gills with these tons of partially used bottles of various supplements. A couple of them are just general vitamins or minerals that will be useful for me just as a general supplement or for my wife when she gets pregnant the next time (or maybe the next couple of times depending on how much I actually have left!). But I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the rest.

I was just going to start on a program of taking some of them each day and working my way through them all to use them up. I figured it couldn’t hurt as long as I didn’t go way overboard on one or another without balancing them out, but I have run into another problem: I don’t want to take any more pills at the moment!! I tried to take them. I have them all neatly put out for the next week in my pill organizer, but that was for a week a couple months ago, and they are still there. I have been religiously taking these supplements over the years and now that I don’t “have to”, I really don’t want to.

So now I’m stuck with a ton of these bottles and no where for them to go. It’s hundreds of dollars worth of supplements (if only we could have seen into the future to know what to buy and what not to buy), so I don’t really want to just throw them away. I think for now I will hold onto them. I will probably get over my disinterest in taking any pills some day, and then I’ll start working my way through them again. But in the meantime I have my shrine of bottles sitting on my shelf to commemorate my history with colitis.

Admiring women

Posted June 22nd, 2008 by Jared Anderson
Categories: activities, family, outlook, recovery

First off my disclaimer, I’m sure you’ve heard me mention my wife and that I’m married, so this is not a post about infidelity or how to “get ones kicks” while married. It’s just a simple observation of a change since I am feeling better. It has actually led to me being more attracted to my wife than detracting from it.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve noticed that I notice women more. This is not a slight against my wife in the least. I definitely love her. But in the past I have been so sick and uninterested in most things female (much to my wife’s dismay) that the most beautiful woman in the world could have come up to me and it wouldn’t have caused any kind of reaction. Being “good looking” or “cute” just didn’t warrant any attention with how low I was feeling. But now I’m feeling better and better and noticing how many good looking women there are in the world (my wife and one-year-old daughter included, though I guess I’m biased on that one!).

And this isn’t some kind of sexist thing. Nor some kind of weird ogling thing. It is what it is: a renewed admiration of women. I know I would appreciate a second look from some lady if I took the time to work out or look nice, so shouldn’t they get the same “respect” (re- Latin for again + specere Latin for to look).

Anyway, it’s just nice to be feeling well enough again to have enough attention and energy to notice and care about the outside world again.