Monday, April 20, 2009

OK, so it's been awhile

Today is Monday, April 20. Since my last post I've healed pretty well. The area of skin around the stoma developed a pretty nasty sore due to an improperly sealed bag. It took over a week for me to get that to heal, but it's ok now. I'm really glad the ileostomy is temporary, it's a daily hassle. If it were permanent, I would be dealing with:
  1. Expense. The bags run anywhere from $5 to $10 each, depending on brand and quality. You need to put on a new bag every 3-4 days, so figure 100 per year. That's $500 to $1,000 a year just in supplies. Some insurance covers it, some doesn't. Mine does, but I have to submit the claim after paying for it myself.
  2. Skin care. You have to be super careful to properly fit and place the bag on. If you don't, liquid may seep under the pad onto the skin next to the stoma. Due to its high acid content, it causes open sores, which hurt like Hell. Then, to add insult to injury, some of the caulk-like stuff they use to seal the pads has alcohol in it. That'll get your attention. I think I said "ouch" or something like that :). Some people even get to the point where the skin is cracked and bleeding. My sympathy goes out to anyone who has had to deal with it, I know how much it must hurt.
  3. Limited Activity. Maybe this is just me babying it, but I can't work out, can't jog or do anything like tennis or racquetball.
  4. Itchies. The damned thing itches all the time. This is probably just me not doing something right, but it's annoying. I think it's because I'm a fairly hairy guy, and the hair grows underneath the pad. Try this: shave a spot on your belly, then put a 4"x4" square of duct tape on it and leave it there.

This week is filled with doctor appointments and preparations for Saturday's operation. This morning they filled my colon with barium and took pictures. It actually went really well, I got to watch the video. No leaks, looks like the plumbing is in good shape. I also feel pretty good about being able to evacuate the barium normally. Everything seemed to work pretty well all things considered.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my oncologist to discuss follow-on chemo. Then in the afternoon I have to go to Miami Valley Hospital and do the pre-admission testing, which consists of blood work, an EKG, and some blood work. Then on Wednesday I meet with the surgeon to go over Saturday's activities. On Saturday morning I have the surgery to undo the ileostomy. I'll be in the hospital a couple days, to make sure everything is working properly. I'll work from home next week while recovering.

Everything is on schedule and going well. I still bitch and complain about stuff more than I should, but things could be a lot lot worse.