An ileostomy is a procedure in which the final part of the small intestine, the ileum, is relocated to an opening in the abdominal wall. This opening is called a stoma and is the end of the digestive system as a result of the surgery. For this reason, a special bag must be attached to the skin to collect any waste products that would usually exit the body by passing through the colon, rectum and finally the anus. This type of surgery can either be temporary or permanent, mine is temporary, meaning it can be reversed (to a certain extent) later on in life. This could be a matter of months, it could be in a few years.
The picture to the left vaguely shows the procedure, again I understand things when I can actually see them rather than just reading descriptions. As you can see, the left hand side shows no colon, just like me now. Then on the right it shows the body from the side, so you can see and understand how the ileum is relocated a bit more. You can also see the bag attached to the outside of the body. This is simply stuck on with adhesive so I can change it every other day to make sure it remains as clean as possible. The only part that is actually stitched to me is the ileum, I had a total of 16 stitches which just fall out when they’re healed and ready to.
You can get different types of ileostomy / stoma bags (two different words for the same thing), some have a hard plastic ring which is attached to the body and then you change part of it, but the type I have you change the whole thing. It looks like this (right) and it is simply just stuck to my tummy with an adhesive. This shows the side that is stuck to my tummy, the top part has rings so I can cut the opening to the size that fits over my stoma. It’s not the nicest looking thing, but it saved my life.
Straight after surgery, your body is swollen as it’s had a lot done to it, so your stoma is likely to be larger due to swelling which will gradually go down. The rings show measurements so it’s easier to remember how big to cut it every time you change it. This then goes over your stoma, so the stoma is inside the bag and then the plastic film is removed and it can be stuck to your skin. You receive the bags / pouches like this so you can cut it to fit you as everyone is different, so everyone’s stoma will be different.
No two people are the same so no two stomas will be the same.
It can take some getting used to trying to cut it to the correct size, you’ve got to be careful not to stick it to any stitches at first, but then also not to cut it too big and have flesh showing inside as the poo can irritate your skin and cause sores if it’s sat on it for too long. Personally, it’s not the sores from poo being on the skin which irritate me, it’s the adhesive from the bag being stuck to my skin all the time. It takes up the majority of the right side of my tummy and my skin is usually red when I try to remove it, however I have found it’s best to change it after I’ve had a shower as the water has loosened the adhesive slightly and it’s therefore not as sore to peel away from my skin.