How to deal with a bowel cancer patient

20 06 2014

This post is about an emergency, not a life threatening one, but it is an emergency for the person who is in this situation, here you will find out what is going on, and how to respond to it.

Thousands of people have what is often just called a “bag”, it’s a bit more complicated than a simple plastic bag, which is what I think most people imagine, but it’s good enough for most of us.

A person may get a bag after an operation for bowel cancer or another intestinal disease, or even because of a car accident.

I will speak about it from my perspective as I had bowel cancer and have been in this position myself, I was very thankful to the people who responded in the right way.

You may be be a member of the public, a taxi driver, a restaurant owner and find yourself with a person who looks worried and asks if there’s a private bathroom they can use, for example, one which has a toilet and a handbasin.

They will sometimes have a brown stain on the front of their body as though they have spilt gravy over themselves.

What has happened, is their bag has detached from their body and is leaking.

At this moment they feel embarrassed, but they are also uncomfortable because they are wet, and the fluid is mildly acidic and burns.

The fluid is not poo, they have not crapped themselves, The fluid is partly digested food from the stomach. (May also be urine, there are bags for that too)

The fluid came from a hole, called a Stoma, in the small intestine, imagine a hole in a water pipe before it reaches the tap, while the tap can be turned off, the leak in the pipe can’t be (discounting the mains, which we don’t have in our body), so we wear a bag over the hole to “patch” it.

It’s just that the adhesive on the bag, isn’t always as reliable as we’d like it to be.

Anyway, the right thing to do, is to ask them if they have their kit with them, they will understand what you mean, a kit generally contains more bags, and cleaning gear, sometimes a change of clothing too.

If they do, just lead them to a public toilet, most people can handle the situation themselves once they’re settled.

If they don’t, it’s awkward, as they will need help… it may be best to give them a whole toilet roll and get them to an ER where they might get a bag from the hospital. A person in this situation should always have their kit, but sometimes we forget, we usually don’t forget twice.

Not long ago, a friend sent me a photo of a man running a marathon, apparently it was amusing because he’d crapped himself, but it people apparently didn’t stop to think that it was strange, because the stain was on the front of his body. The runner had clearly decided that a leaking bag wasn’t going to stop him completing a race.

Anyway, that’s it, it might look bad, but it’s not a problem.










Bowel Cancer Awareness Week

7 06 2011

As many of my readers know, I have had bowel cancer, and have had all the procedures done to my spotty botty, so much so that for a while is seemed that every doctor I met wanted to stick a digit up my behind.

Now the thing is that although I have an interesting sexuality, I have never really had the urge to put things up the back exit, and the idea that one day I would need to get prostate checks and so on, bothered me.

It bothered me because I thought it might hurt, and in my case it was uncomfortable, so suddenly finding myself in a position where every doctor wanted to cop a feel of my inner regions was a bit hard to take.

Although it got to a point where I’d meet someone and have this weird urge to face the other way and bend over.

All this finger poking and probing led to me getting my first colonoscopy.

Which I’d advise anyone to get because bowel cancer can generally be fixed if found early enough, in fact in the early stages it’s often not a cancer at all, just a polyp, a sort of a pimply thing which bleeds… remove that before it becomes cancer, and life will be that much better.

But there is a persistent false-hood that bowel cancer is an old persons disease, it’s not, anyone can get it, and if you suspect something might be wrong with your insides, please get it checked before it’s too late.

Now you may wonder what the procedure is like, I find that some things aren’t explained quite as well by doctors, we really need to hear from others who have been through it, so here’s my version of what it’s like.

It begins simply enough with a visit to your GP, The family Doctor.

Walk in and say “Doctor, I’m a little concerned about my bottom, could I get a colonoscopy?” Now your doctor gets lots of stranger questions, so please don’t be afraid to ask

The reason for having one could be that you’re having too many cases of the runs, tummy pains, or a spot of blood on the toilet paper, it could also be that a family member has had bowel cancer and you’re concerned that you might develop it too… but it’s not always genetic.

Take your Doctors advice, There may be reasons why you can’t have one yourself, but do ask.

You will be given an appointment form, go home, phone the clinic or hospital, and book a time.

Now a few days before you’re due in, you have to go there and pick up a packet of items which basically equates to cracker night for your arse.

There will be details on the form inside the packet which tells you about fasting, there will probably be a period where you’re allowed to eat low fiber food such as bread, chicken and jelly, followed by about six hours of eating nothing, then a few more hours of not drinking.

If you’re confused, just phone the place which is doing the procedure and they’ll sort it out for you.

Then it’s cracker night.

You begin by taking two small laxatives, then progress to the hard-core stuff.

Then there are boxes of some fizzy stuff which mixes with water, it’s pretty horrible, but you have to get it down, apparently it’s disguised with a bit of a lemon tang, sort of, this has to be swallowed sometime after downing the pills.

Then you move onto a weird mixture which is like trying to drink two liters of Lube, and I suppose that’s what it is in a way, it’s pretty horrible, and slippery as. Careful when drinking it as the glass might become slippery and you might drop it, I almost did.

My Cousin was told that it’s a good idea to add cordial to it, and it won’t taste as bad… but be aware that you cannot have anything red or purple as it confuses the doctor and makes him think you’re bleeding madly on the inside.

I suppose if you like the taste of fruit flavoured lubricated condoms then you’re set.

When I had surgery, I was in a ward with a woman who had “blood” inside an ileostomy bag, which worried both her and the nurse, and then I said “Didn’t you have red jelly earlier?” Then they realised what it was, it came as quite a relief.

Now, the best explanation as to what happens next is best summed up here, as funny as it is, it’s absolutely true, so take note, and don’t be more than ten meters away from a *vacant* toilet, I swear, That toilet is yours, it is forbidden for anyone else to use it. Not even Superman can hold in what you’re about to experience, so nobody NOBODY can use that toilet.

Billy Connolly – Colonoscopy

When this happened to me, I think it started around 7:30 in the evening, and I kept having twinges till about 2am when it finally stopped enough so that I could fall asleep.

I would recommend that when you’re ready to be shipped out, that you wear something like Depends, as you will still be running to the toilet the next day and may have an accident, don’t get cocky and think that because you’re twenty five that you can’t shit yourself, you can.

I’m sorry I’m so blunt, but I cannot press this issue enough, take all precautions.

Have someone drive you in, don’t take a bus, if you do, you will be sorry my friend, very sorry indeed.

You will also need someone to drive you home as you will be awake, but not quite with it yet.

Take a change of clothes, be prepared as the Scouts would say, and also put a bit of something on the car seat… plastic, just in case.

When you get there, the first thing you’ll notice about the waiting room is everyone is hopping out of their chairs and running to the toilet, there’s usually a lot of toilets where they do colonoscopies, They also have stacks of toilet paper, so you should be fine.

It may be best to find out where the toilets are beforehand, so if you need to rush, you know exactly where to head.

You will generally have a quick talk to the person handling your anesthetic, and then be given one of those gowns that tend to show too much, but your dressing gown should cover most of it.

Then you’re called in and you’re asked to lay on a table.

I’ve had it done twice, and there were differences, so this is colonoscopy the first.

I laid on my side on the table and was given anesthetic, it doesn’t hurt, there’s a bit of a sting and it’s over, they usually connect it to the vein in the back of your left hand.

Then suddenly everything got very slow and nice, and someone put a mask on me, which was oxygen, it was like a lovely cool breeze blowing through a window, then I was given a nice fluffy pillow and sank into that.

I have always been a bit scared at the thought of anesthetic, but I have to say the experience so far was extremely pleasing.

I felt the doctor putting lube on my bottom (eep!, ahh who cares) and then I sort of went to sleep.

This anesthetic doesn’t actually make you sleep, it makes you relax, and you don’t remember anything later… I can imagine this is what aliens must be doing, you know, when they do abductions and collect your sperm or somesuch, your mind only gets flashes of reality, and you just don’t give a crap… at least, in this case, we hope that’s all over… the crapping.

I remember hearing voices and feeling the bed bumping slightly across the floor as I was being moved, then a nurse tried to wake me up, it felt like 6am on a saturday morning and waking up was difficult.

I didn’t want to get up, but was helped up anyway and the nurse and I made our way slowly to a recovery room where there were recliners. I sat and rested with my dressing gown around me, I felt like I was an old fella in a nursing home.

After a while, someone came around with tea, bikkies, and a few sandwiches. I was still dopey and didn’t feel like eating, but was told that I had to eat before they’d allow me to go home.

Usually you get the results then and there, I got a letter with a photo of a tumour attached to it, I hope your result is not like mine was.

I was driven home and sat with Mum for a while, and then went to bed where I went to sleep for a few hours.

Colonoscopy 2

I had a bag at this stage, so had to go through an enema, which resulted in a similar but lesser output, and I was already at the hospital so things were better.

I remember being really cold as I sat in the room with my gown on, I had not bought a dressing gown to wear over the top of theirs, though a nurse did come around with warm, freshly tumbled blankets for us.

The need for a free toilet was just as strong, and I had a choice of about three of them, so I was fine.

This time when I was called in, it was pretty funny.

The doctor was seated at a computer while I was given my anesthetic, it was just casual chat as I laid o the bed with the anesthetic being dripped into me.

One of the nurses looked at me and asked “Are you sleepy yet”, in all honesty I said “no” and then blinked… I was in another room, it was as though someone had edited film, a sharp cut from one scene to the next, it was so weird.

I was wide awake and didn’t feel sleepy at all, although when I tried to get up, I was a bit wobbly.

My Cousin drove me home and I got into bed, but found I didn’t feel sleepy, so I got online and chatted, and a bit later on took Katie for a short walk, which was a bit naughty of me, but I really wasn’t feeling too bad.. and anyway, I wasn’t driving or operating heavy machinery.

A colonoscopy is a pretty easy thing to go through, but like all medical procedures there are risks, but your Doctor will go over them with you, of course there might be a reason why you shouldn’t have one, but if you can, do it!