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Up to a few months ago, I was using the same stoma/ostomy bag I left hospital with, which is over three years ago now! I was very happy with the bag; there were a few issues with it, but, as I have discovered there are issue’s with most ostomy bags, however, overall, it worked well for me.
Then, the company decided to “improve” the design of the bag! They made changes to its construction and to the covering fabric. The bag no longer felt the same, and the new fabric covering was very difficult to dry after showering. I actually had to use a hairdryer to dry it properly! But, even more annoying, the fabric began to fall apart after just two days of wear. If you change your bag every day this would not be a problem, but I change my bag every 4, 5, or sometimes 6 days, and shower every day, so it became quite an ordeal.
So I started on the arduous, and sometimes daunting, task of finding an alternative stoma/ostomy bag! The first step was to research all of the different manufacturer’s products and order samples of ones I thought might be suitable. Then there was the, sometimes frightening, task of trying them out! Firstly, I didn’t know if the bag would stick to my skin properly; which is a bit irrational, because they were all reputable manufacturers with long experience of producing stoma/ostomy bags! This is an example of the ‘world of fear’ ostomates live in! Also, there was the very real fear that the bag would cause skin irritation!
The second step was to assess the performance of the sample stoma/ostomy bags! The primary function in this regard was, how easy it was to empty. (I should explain; I have an ileostomy, which requires emptying 8-10 dimes daily.) The different manufacturers have different systems for draining their bags, so this was a major consideration. It also served to eliminate some of the products very quickly, as several have similar draining systems which I didn’t like.
The primary consideration was; will the adhesive flange cause skin irritation! Unfortunately, this is a hit-and-miss situation because there is little ‘choice’ of adhesive type offered by the bag manufacturers! The bag may work perfectly for you, but, if you experience skin irritation you cannot use it. I think the bag manufacturers should pool a portion of their R & D resources to research the different skin types/issues, and produce a range of adhesive options for these skin types/issues! They should then offer ostomates their bags with the different adhesive options! Unfortunately, I can’t see this happening because some of the manufacturers ‘use’ their own dermatological formulas to market their particular products!
Two other aspects for consideration were:
1. The quality of the covering fabric, how comfortable it was against the skin, how easy it was to manage after showering, and the quality in terms of wear.
2. How the bag performed in relation to how easy it was to evacuate the contents. Some bags have a tendency to become less ‘fluid’ after a day or two, i.e., the contents ‘stick’ to the bag and make it difficult to empty easily. A ‘cure’ often prescribed for this is to add an oily substance to the inside of the bag after emptying. I feel it is an onerous enough task emptying the bag, numerous times per day, without also having to carry a container of ‘oil’ to add to the bag after you empty it!
During this entire process I was also looking up the internet for information! There is a lot of information to be found (sometimes conflicting) on-line. There are numerous ‘blogs’ with people relating their own experience and offering/seeking advice on a whole range of topics related to living with a stoma. (An observation; the vast majority of the ‘bloggers’ are young people, particularly female, with a stoma. I know this is obvious because the internet is a ‘young’ person’s medium, but, the majority of people living with a stoma are in the ‘older’ age bracket!)
However, I did find a fantastic site that gave a very professional opinion on many products and problems an ostomate has to live with. The site is www.veganostomy.ca , hosted by a Canadian gentleman called Eric. He started the website in 2013, just before he had his surgery, primarily seeking information about being a ‘vegan’ living with a stoma. He now has probably the most popular ‘stoma/ostomy’ website on the internet. He has in excess of 185,000 visitors to the site with over 460,000 articles read and 250,000 videos watched on YouTube! He has articles and videos about every conceivable subject relating to living with a stoma. Don’t be put off by the ‘vegan’ aspect, it is only mentioned when it is relevant to the topic in discussion!
However, to get back to my subject! When I discovered the website, I was down to making a decision between two stoma/ostomy bags, and, by coincidence, he was also reviewing one of those bags. His review of the bag coincided with many of my views, and he gave a very comprehensive assessment; the negative as well as the positive, which helped me, make the final decision.
The bag in question is the Coloplast Sen Sura Mio, and I think it is probably the best bag on the market. It is not without its flaws, but these are far outweighed by the many positive aspects.
I have been using the new bag for a couple of months now, and I am delighted to report I am back to ‘living with confidence’ with my stoma.