Today when I actually talked about a pretty important topic for ostomates, and that is: blockages, and how to handle them. I’m no stranger to blockages I’ve had a couple of partial blockages throughout my ostomy career but I’m also been sent to the hospital because of a blockage and I tell you guys it is not fun at all. The word”NG Tube” just put the fear of God into my heart, and I really would want anyone to avoid a hospital visit because of a blockage if possible. Now for some of us, blockages are just part of the package.
If you’ve got a digestive disorder unfortunately you might also have bowel obstructions and structures and other things that come along with that so I think for the most part for people that don’t have those pre-existing issues, then blockages something that’s usually completed in your control, so I hope some of these tips will help to prevent blockages for you completely or will guide you through them if you develop one. Now I can’t stress enough: blockages are not something to joke about!
If you suspect that you have a blockage and you’re throwing up or you feel nauseated or there’s just a lot of pain going on I suggest that you head to your local ER and have them take care of you. Believe me guys you do not want to run into problems and you have a blockage and they do tend to be pretty common when you’re a new ostomate, but a lot of veteran ostomates will still, and can still, get them if they’re not careful. “Blockage prevention”. Now for the most part there are lists of foods that you know you do wanna stay away from.
if you have some difficulties passing them but I tend to look at things as more about how you eat food and not necessarily what you’re eating so for me I tend to follow a couple of rules when it comes to avoiding blockages. First of all, I always take my time when I eat. I know the one time that I actually landed in a hospital I was rushing I basically did everything wrong. So I was not chewing my food well, I was rushing through the meal, I was eating a lot of food all at once, and that really all just accumulated into one big problem.
So the first thing I do is I take my time. Now and the second thing that I do is I chew, and I chew, and I chew, and I chew and I chew. This perhaps is gonna be the most important thing to remember when you’re talking about the avoidance of a blockage. I think that chewing, you know, is just so important I can’t stress this enough: you want to chill until your food is essentially liquefied. Yes, it’ll take you a bit more time to eat, but believe me, it’ll take you a lot more time to recover in a hospital! Now another thing is the volume of food that you’re eating.
I tend to be someone who eats a few meals a day, but when I do eat it tends to be large meals and that tends to cause problems for me. If you snack throughout the day and have, you know, relatively moderate-sized meals, then you’re probably not gonna have too many issues. But if you are like me and you gorge on a single meal, you’re going to have a lot of trouble passing that through your system and a lot of the times will probably get some partial blockage is along the way.
So if you can snack throughout the day, if you can split up your meals, that’s definitely going to help in the longterm. If you’re a new ostomate one thing that you should keep in mind is the fact that your stoma is gonna be really swollen and that prevents a lot of food from passing through it. And that’s one of the reasons why every new ostomate told to go on a very easy to digest, low-fiber diet without any skins or whole nuts or anything like that. That’s actually pretty good information when you’re in the new ostomate.
For me personally, once I got past that one or two month mark then foods just became easier for me to digest, and as a matter of fact, my digestion strengthened for about a year, I would say, until I totally felt comfortable with eating and not getting blockages and that sort of thing. So it will take some time to readjust your system, but if you’re new ostomate, just hang in there! Believe me, it will get a lot better. Another thing that you can do, and I know a lot of people do this, is to have liquids with your meals.
That will help to move things along especially if you’re having a very high starch meal. I know for myself personally if I eat a lot of potatoes and I’m not washing it down with some kind of liquid, then I tend to have the feeling of a partial blockage and that’s not really that fun. Ok, so you think that you might have a blockage. What next? Well first of all it’s important to note that not everyone’s experience is going to be the same. For me, when I have a blockage, I tend to exhibit some of the following things: First of all I have no output and that’s kind of a classic sign of a blockage.
What I will have, though, is sometimes a bit of gas coming out of the stoma or liquid output which is a little unusual for me. I’ll also get the feeling of pressure behind my stoma. It’s almost like you’re trying to pass a baseball and just nothing’s coming out! You feel that pressure, “crampiness”, and when I’m experiencing that I actually do notice that my stoma is retracting, and if I’m wearing a clear pouch I can see right away whether or not I’ve got an issue going on if I’ve got a bit of pain.
Now when things start to get really bad and you’ve got a blockage for more than a few hours, what you might start to develop is nausea, and in some extreme cases. vomiting. Now when I was sent to the hospital with a blockage, vomiting was kind of my last step. Once I started throwing up I went straight to the hospital and I mean they had to pump my stomach out and do all kinds of stuff. I probably waited a little too long! So I think if you’re gonna get to the point where you’re going wait till you’re throwing, up you probably going to run into some trouble.
So I would recommend not doing what I do and try to get to the hospital sooner. Now other people might have other symptoms to go along with a partial blockage. Some people might have very strong smelling output, and for some that might be totally normal, but for others if that’s a drastic shift from what you’re used to and you might want to keep an eye on that. Now it’s important to note that if you have a blockage or if you suspect the partial blockage don’t eat anything.
I know you would probably think that “if I eat something it’s going to kind of push things along” and that’s kinda nota good thing, ok? You don’t want to be doing that. If you’re blocked, even if it’s a partial blockage, if you try to shove food down your throat it’s just going to compact and create a bigger problem for you. What I generally try to do is I willhave warm liquids and this could either be just warm water or tea, and in some cases I had even prune juice but prune juice you really do have to watch out for.
Because if you have a complete blockage and you’re drinking prune juice or any kind of laxatives or products that will give you a laxative-like effect, you’re gonna create more issues for yourself. So I would only do that if I have a partial blockage and there is some output coming through but not as much as I’d like or not as much as I know is still in there. So that’s really the only time when I use a prune juice or laxative-like product. I do not recommend *at all* taking a laxative.
That can create many issues for you and you absolutely don’t want to do that unless your doctor has specifically instructed you. Now what I find really helps when I feel partially blocked is to just massage around the stoma. Now you don’t have to go crazy! You don’t have to, you know, intensely massage the area. Just push along your stoma and if you have your wafer on, it’ll basically be around the edge of the wafer just slightly inside the border of that wafer and just press down on some areas and you may actually find that some areas are more tender than others.
And I’llgenerally massage that and I can massage that for several hours at a time, but eventually, that will help to move things along that way. Along with massaging, I will also bend my body like that forward or do crunches and that will also help to stretch things along inside and hopefully will loosen up anything that stuck in there. It has worked for me in the past, and may not for you, but you know it’s something that you can definitely try. Now a lot of people like to get into a very warm bath.
That’s something that I haven’t personally tried but I know that it it’s helped a lot of people so if that’s your thing definitely go for that. Now what I also tend to do if I find that I’ve got a really stubborn partial blockage is I actually remove my appliance altogether! For some of us if we’re putting our appliance on and it’s a little too tight (especially if you’re a newer ostomate) and you’re stoma is swollen, just removing your appliance will help to open things up and, you know, if they’re anything just stuck behind the opening of your stoma.