For those of you are interested in knowing what a stoma is and how to apply the colostomy bag, here is a YouTube Video. It is not me, and not my stoma, and it may be TMI, so don’t go look if you get queasy with stuff like that.
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed when I took off my colostomy appliance (the flange and bag that adheres to my abdomen) to change it, that I had some irritation on the skin surrounding the stoma. I was afraid that it was getting infected, so I called the Wound Care Center associated with Tanner Medical Center to try to get an appointment with them. They said I would need to go to my primary care physician first for a referral.
The next day, I called Dr. Howell, my primary, and made an appointment for that same afternoon. When I went in, I told her what was going on, and she took a look at my stoma. I did not take the whole appliance off, just opened up the bag, but she could see the red irritated area I was talking about. She diagnosed it as Ulcerated Stoma and told me I was right to come in and get a referral. She called to make an appointment for me at the Wound Care Center, and did not charge me for the visit to her office, which was very nice of her to do since I still do not have health insurance.
It was five days until my appointment at Wound Care. I worried the whole five days about having an ulceration because that type of thing can lead to failure of the stoma, which would mean more surgery. On the day of my appointment, I went in the room, and talked to the nurse, and told her what was going on. I took the appliance completely off, (and hoped that I wouldn’t have any “activity” while it was off).
When the WOCN came in she took one look, and asked me if we had any of my supplies with us. Fabgrandpa got one kit out of my backpack. When she looked at my kit, she said immediately that I was using supplies that are too big. The irritation of the skin around my stoma was because the opening of the flange was too big, allowing feces to get on my skin and stay there.
She gave us some samples of supplies of the correct size, and showed Fabgrandpa how to care for the irritated area so that it could heal. She also said there was no actual ulcer and not even any infection so I did not have to get an antibiotic. I have a follow up appointment in three weeks for the WOCN to check to see if the irritation is clearing up. I think it is going to be just fine. And now that we know what to buy, we’ll get the right size and won’t have this problem again.