Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Shit, shower & shave

The first time poo fell out of my stoma in the shower it gave me a bit of a fright. Even though I knew showering without the bag meant there would be a chance of it happening, I still wasn’t quite prepared for it when it did. Watching poo curl out of a hole in your stomach is quite an odd experience. It slips out very slowly before suddenly breaking off and landing at your feet with a soft thud. If you’re not quick enough it sometimes actually lands on your feet. Luckily you’re in the shower so it rinses through your toes in no time. Like I say, it’s an odd experience. It was my stoma nurse who recommended I shower without the bag. She had been told by a few of her patients that it was a good habit to get into. Initially the idea scared me. In those first few weeks the less I saw of my stoma the better. The thought of being naked and washing myself with a gaping wound in my belly made me feel squeamish. What if water got in it? Or even worse, what if my finger slipped in by accident? So I ignored the advice of my stoma nurse and showered with the bag on. I felt a bit of a wimp for not being brave enough to go au natural, but I figured they wouldn’t make the bags waterproof if they weren’t meant to be worn in water. It wasn’t long though before I began to notice that after a shower the adhesive flange would start to lift up at the edges, often leading to a leak. And even when the bag had dried it still smelt a bit fusty. Also keeping the bag on for long periods just felt, well, slightly unhygienic. Even though I’d had a shower I still felt unclean. So one morning I took the plunge and went bagless. After the initial weirdness and shock of watching my own shit going down the plughole, I realised it wasn’t so bad. Even the sight of my ugly stoma didn’t bother me so much. I started to gain confidence and soon I was cleaning it properly. Actually touching it and everything. I also have to shave the area around my stoma, too, which helps the adhesive stick better when you put the bag on, and hurt less when you take it off. It’s all part of my daily routine now. I would never go back to keeping the bag on. It wouldn’t feel right. It’s funny, I used to think showering with the bag off was disgusting, but now I think it’s disgusting showering with it on. And really, does it matter so much if I poo whilst I shampoo?