Colorectal cancer or other bowel conditions can necessitate a colostomy for a patient. A colostomy is an intestinal diversion bypassing the diseased part of the colon. After colostomy surgery, waste materials leave the body through an opening in the abdomen instead of the anus. This opening is known as a stoma. Because this opening doesn’t have sphincter muscles, you have to wear a pouch over it to manage stool evacuations. It can be nothing less than a challenge to live with this intestinal diversion, but getting a basic understanding of how things work and the way to deal with the situation can help you adapt to this modified routine.
What is the colon?
The colon, or large intestine, is a part of the bowel that connects the end of the small intestine to the rectum and anus. Food wastes enter this part of the bowel from the ileum and travel towards the anus. The colon absorbs moisture, salts, and electrolytes from the content coming from the ileum.
The three main parts of the colon are the following.
- Ascending colon, which is present on the right side of the body and is responsible for receiving food wastes from the ileum
- Transverse colon, which runs across the upper portion of the abdomen
- Descending colon, which is present on the left side of the belly and connects the transverse colon to the sigmoid colon
What is an ostomy?
An ostomy refers to a diversion in the excretory tract. It is needed when the normal function of the bladder or bowel is lost due to any reason. Reasons for the loss of function may include injury, disease, or other problems. The types of ostomy include the following.
- Colostomy: This ostomy is created with a part of the colon. The consistency of stool passing out of a colostomy ranges from soft to firm.
- Ileostomy: An ostomy created by bringing a part of the ileum through a cut in the belly is known as an ileostomy. The consistency of stool passing out of this ostomy is liquid to semi-soft, and it is usually green.
- Urostomy: It is an ostomy to divert the passage of urine away from the bladder. This ostomy uses a small piece of the bowel as a conduit or improvised bladder.
A urostomy is usually permanent. A colostomy and ileostomy, however, can be permanent or temporary, depending on the severity or type of disorder. The consistency of waste materials passing out of a colostomy usually depends on the location of the stoma. The more distal a colostomy is from the ileum, the firmer will be the stool passing out of the stoma.
Your doctor will recommend you to undergo stoma surgery within a few days after diagnosing the issue. Before surgery, you will get an appointment with an ostomy nurse who will mark the location of the stoma on your belly and tell you everything about surgery and subsequent stoma care. Be sure to listen and note everything.
You will be asked to stop eating at least 12 hours before the operation. Surgeons will start operating after giving you anesthesia to put you to sleep. Thus, you will not remember anything related to surgery after waking up. You will have to remain in the recovery room for a few hours after surgery. Your doctor and surgical staff will keep you hospitalized for a few days to check the progress of your recovery. Once they are satisfied, you will be allowed to go home.
Living with a colostomy
It may seem a bit challenging to live with a colostomy, but you will adapt to the new toilet routine in a few days. You will need to pay attention to everything your doctor and ostomy care nurse will tell you. if you face any challenge related to stoma care and managing the ostomy pouch, you can contact your ostomy care nurse.
Having an ostomy doesn’t mean that you have to stop eating your favorite foods. The fact of the matter is that an ostomy might let you eat foods you have been avoiding due to your bowel condition. The introduction of foods to your diet has to be a gradual process, though.