At the very begging of my journey with my precious ileostomy, I knew nothing about stoma blockage, also known as bowel obstruction, so the first blockage got me unexpectedly and completely unprepared to deal with. It happened only a few months after my surgery while I was going through my second chemo.
The first thing I felt when dealing with a stoma blockage was stomach pain around my stoma and after that first symptom, they started popping up one behind another. The next thing I noticed was that my output from my ileostomy is slowing down until it stopped draining completely. The area around my stoma became very swollen and my stoma doubled the size.
Obviously, I was dealing with the complete stoma blockage but didn`t know that then.
Instinctively, I stopped eating right away and only drank some water. Also, I`ve changed my bag because I needed to cut a larger hole on my baseplate. All the effort I have put to end the most painful thing I have ever felt ended up as a failure, which means I ended up in ER on IV fluids surrounded by doctors who knew pretty much the same as I did about the stoma blockage… If I only knew what I do now, I’m pretty sure things would end up with a different outcome.
I gave birth twice, natural births meds free, and not gonna lie, they were less painful than any stoma blockage I`ve had so far.
After my first experience which was like going through hell, gave myself a task to learn everything about stoma blockage and how to help myself.
Fast thing forward, I`ve learned that blockages can occur either in the small or large bowel and that there are two types of blockages, partial and complete.
Let`s just say that I was “lucky enough” to have only one partial, and the rest of them were complete ones.
There are many reasons why stoma blockage may occur, and for me, so far they were always caused by poorly digested food and that is the reason why I was able to help myself with self-help tricks almost every stoma blockage I went through.
The first thing I do when a blockage strikes me is that I immediately stop eating and only drink water very slowly, one sip every few minutes so I don`t get dehydrated. Right after, I run to the toilet to change my bag so that my stoma has enough space to expand since it always doubles the size during the blockage.
The next thing I do is massage my stomach with slight compression of the area I feel is swollen under my fingers. At times I prepare myself a nice hot bath to help my muscles to relax and to pass the food through the intestines or simply apply the heating pad on my stomach. These tricks I find very useful because bowels have muscles and if muscles relax enough the food starts to passing through.
The rest of the day or two, depending on how long it takes for my blockage to go away, I completely stop eating solid food and stay on a liquid only. Usually, if it lasts more than one day I go to the ER to get some IV fluids to prevent my body from collapse.
There are times when a soda helps. I drink the whole soda can and if lucky enough, the soda helps drain the output much faster.
Also, depending on how intensive is the stomach pain, I try to move my body as much as possible to help supply intestines with more blood and to faster the draining process.
Not gonna lie, there are times when I end up on meds because nothing else helped me to resolve the problem and these meds are recommended to me from my GI. I take pain-free meds and some meds to relax muscles and they help me to get back on track.
Although the stoma blockage mostly occurs due to poorly digested food, there are many other reasons why someone can have a blockage, which is why always so important to seek medical help when dealing with the blockage symptoms. Especially if they last a longer period of time.
To me, self-help is very important but I would never jeopardize my health and life and that’s exactly why I always watch closer to my symptoms, and if I notice anything unusual I always seek medical help.
Remember, staying well and taking care of our health is the mandatory rule for a happy life with a stoma.