Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chapter 9 more...Colostomy

     I thought I would cry when I learned that the doctors had given my husband a colostomy.  At first he had been given the temporary colostomy to rest his bowel as he got well.
     As it turned out, the colostomy was a godsend, for he was unable to walk, which meant he couldn’t use the bathroom himself anyway, and besides he was not lucid most of the time.  He had also become fecal incontinent after his stroke a few months before his hospitalization.  To say that he has had a rough time of it would be a gross understatement The hospitalization lasted three months, this time.
     Patients with renal failure have special needs.  You must be extremely careful with medications given, as well as any anesthetic that is necessary.  Before his hospitalization, my husband was on peritoneal dialysis, a procedure that is done in the home by the patient.  This left him free to travel and pursue a normal life style.
     Things changed when Wayne was released into my care.  He could no longer walk or stand by himself.  During his stay with me in the apartment, his colostomy was a good thing, for he was in bed the majority of the time and I had to care for him.  It made my life a little easier.  I’m not a nurse, but I learned a lot about caring for a patient who is bedridden.  I could have used a lot of this knowledge when I was struggling to care for my mother-in-law.
     A typical day started early with a bed bath, clean clothes, a shave, and a tube feeding.  Then came a transfer to the wheelchair while clean linens were put on the bed.
     Wayne was fed through the gastrostomy tube that was surgically implanted in his stomach through the abdominal wall.  This made feeding easy; it was a method much better than intravenous feeding, which was more difficult and took much more skill than I had yet acquired.  This tube also made giving him medication much easier, since he couldn’t swallow very well.  In fact, everything was done through this tube, for a time.
     Next, we had to empty the colostomy bag, clean it and deodorize it.  This was a simple procedure, although it was a little odoriferous.  Actually it just plain stank!  But it beat the alternative, which was cleaning up accidents in the bed.  Although it sounds gross, it really isn’t.  You can keep the bag odor-free with deodorizers, plus you empty it as often as necessary.  It is also much easier when your patient is bedridden.  They don’t have to do anything.  You just empty the bag into a container and take it to the bathroom and flush it.
     The bags are also easy to replace; however, it is easier to replace a colostomy bag than to empty one, with much less odor.  There are some items necessary for the changing, such as deodorizer and a wash that is placed inside the bag to hold down the odor.  You place all the items that are needed on a towel, with a wet cloth nearby for cleaning the opening of the bag.  There is a clip on the end of the colostomy bag that is removed to empty it.  You then fold back the first half inch of the bag like a cuff to keep it clean, and empty the bag into a container.  Spray the deodorizer in the air around the bed to kill any odor.  If this his handled correctly there is very little offensive odor.  After the bag is deodorized, unfold the cuff and turn it up and over the clip, fasten it and you are done until the next time.
     But, you know, there are always problems...but that is for next time.

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