How the Problem Snuck Up On Me
I have had my ostomy now for well over three and one-half years. When I was at the two year mark, I had a sudden realization.
It Happened this one morning I was dealing with my appliance and I just suddenly realized that my ostomy, just never seemed to flatten out like it had done in the beginning. It almost looked to me that it was always bulging outward a bit.
I asked my wife if she remembered if it jutted out that far before or if I was imagining things. She agreed it seems to be larger to both of us.
I Am Talking About-A Parastomal Hernia
The term parastomal hernia is used to describe a bulge or swelling around/under the stoma that leads to problems with stoma function and appliance security. This is how this is described medically.
If you would like to be grossed out, (poor people) put the term herniated stoma in Google for a search and click on search term images.
You will get to see just what a vast assortment of hernias people have experienced of this variety. Most of these images the problems are very much worse than mine. Thank God!
Mine is no where as bad as most of the ones currently pictured but mine does cause a larger than normal bulge in the area of my lower abdomen area where my stoma is located.
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Getting Medical For You
So with that being said here is some medical information you should have knowledge of about your ostomy.
When a stoma is brought out to the surface of the abdomen it must pass through the muscles of the abdominal wall, thus a potential site of weakness is immediately created.
This is what I found out through visiting my Colo-rectal surgeon. She said that with my operation being performed only 70 days or so after my chemo and especially with the 27 sessions of radiation, that the skin isn’t as flexible as it would be in a younger and healthy person.
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She further said in the ideal situation the abdominal wall muscles form a snug fit around the stoma opening. However, sometimes the muscles come away from the edges of the stoma thus creating a hernia.
Further & Deeper Discussion of The Parastomal Hernia
There are many things that can come into play with you getting a hernia with your ostomy. Let’s look at a few of them now.
- Coughing– yes normal coughing puts a lot of pressure on that area. A large coughing spell could cause the area to rupture some.
- Are You Overweight– any increase in weigh most likely will put pressure on that area of your body. This could cause the area to rupture from anything as simple as bending over, or reaching out to put your shoes on, or even tying your shoelaces as well.
- Lifting heavy items– probably not the greatest ideas of any you might have. Things like lifting sacks of concrete, or a heavy box, or even be careful while lifting large bags of things such as potting soil, doors, larger windows, bags of cat litter. These are a few things that come to mind.
I know I was kidding myself, because I though I could play some basketball or baseball. But in trying limited action with these you may not want to do this.
- Weight lifting– I have lifted before and wanted to do so again. But after a few attempts I realized that I could cause damage here as well. It seems that even with proper breathing, that even if I was doing upper body lifting exercises it would still be putting pressure on my lower abdomen.
So What Happened
That is a great question. I really don’t know, except after discussing this with the doctors it seems that it is normally a slow process that this happens under.
The lack of tissue flexibility at my age had a lot to do with it. I don’t know of anything that I could have done to prevent.
I believe for myself that the extra 25-30 lbs I gained after the Chemo regimen was over didn’t help anything. It just seemed like the food which had been so disgusting to me during the chemo, tasted good again.
I also think coughing may have lead to the problem. It seems as well that with my laying always on my one side may have caused some of the problem as well.
So be careful, and be aware of all of these things. I wasn’t aware of most of this and I didn’t know this could be a problem. Three different doctors told my wife and I that there was complete awareness in the medical profession of this.
In fact all three gave us a 60-65 percent chance that this could happen. We were shocked to hear that it was so high. We had no idea, no one had ever shared these figures with us.
Be Prepared for the Future
As with all hernias, the size will probably increase as time goes by. Not sure of this happening to all
This could help out not only with your appearance in public but also help prevent further damage.
Stoma hernias are rarely painful, but are usually uncomfortable and can become extremely inconvenient.
They may make it difficult to attach a bag properly
and sometimes their sheer size is an embarrassment as they can be seen beneath your clothes.
Finally please know that although a rare complication, the intestine can sometimes become trapped or kinked within the hernia and become a major pain issue as well as a health issue for you.