Surgically removing my colon almost meant that I’d completely recover from my ulcerative colitis. Life after the surgery seemed beautiful despite having to live with an ostomy pouch: no more stomach aches, bleeding, dietary restrictions, and drug therapy. However, I was in for a surprise! I didn’t know about intestinal blockages.
Blockages are a bowel obstruction characterized by not passing gas and/or stools, which may cause abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. The first signs of an obstruction are abdominal pain and very liquid stools. Food cannot travel through the intestines like it normally does. According to my surgeon, the frequency of bowel obstructions can be influenced by adhesions caused by surgery, or by the size of the opening in the skin for the stoma, among others.
I have a lot of experience on the subject. Here are some tips I have for you:
Trying new food:
- Try them in small amounts, and chew the food until it’s liquid before swallowing.
- Don’t try new food before leaving on a trip, or before attending an important event, for example.
How to get rid of a bowel obstruction:
- Stop eating and drink as much liquid as you can immediately following the onset of symptoms.
- I read somewhere that grape juice and tea can help move the food in the intestines. Experts agree that you must stay hydrated when your bowel is obstructed.
- Remove your flange and take a hot bath or shower. Removing the flange allows your skin to expand and helps with bloating. My stoma can double in size, so I have bigger flanges for when I suffer from bowel obstructions.
- Massage your stomach.
- Wait. In my case, most of the time I just need to lie down and be patient. I asked my gastroenterologist for painkillers, because I get them a lot and they cause me great pain. It helps me sleep and suffer a bit less.
- Go to the hospital if the condition persists and (almost) nothing comes out of your stoma. There, the first step will be to stop eating, and they will ease the pain with painkillers. You will also receive intravenous hydration. If the obstruction doesn’t go away on its own, a nasogastric tube (inserted through the nose into the stomach) may help prevent vomiting.
- Talk to your gastroenterologist or surgeon if they happen often. They were able to provide me with solutions suited for me, like enlarge the skin opening for my stoma, as well as tricks for when it happens.
To everyone suffering from bowel obstructions, just be patient. I was told that they are less frequent over the years. To help prevent new obstructions, respect the restrictions you set for yourself.
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