Five Ostomy Items You Shouldn't Live Without
No matter if you had your ostomy surgery last week, last year, or 20 years ago, the sheer volume of different ostomy supplies and accessories out there can be overwhelming.
Don’t get me wrong, options are a great thing. But, when you have too many of them, it’s sometimes hard to make a decision. To wit: There are several major brands and a few minor leaguers to choose from.
Additionally, the products and brands someone is able to get in the hospital might be different from what they’re able to get once they get home. Many times, the entire style of an ostomate’s appliance will change based on what their insurance company will cover. Then, of course, there are the different adhesives, removers, wafer or barrier options, rings, barrier strips, and pouch designs.
Like I said, there are a lot of choices to be made.
At our Arkansas DME company, I ran the ostomy patient department for years. I experienced the pain and suffering of people trying to figure out what they needed and how and when. While I don’t have an ostomy myself, my sympathy levels were through the roof trying to help people get what they needed to live their best life.
Over time, I came up with a list of ostomy supplies that I found really helped people. I would love to hear your comments about what helps you the most, so we can share that with our community. Feel free to comment below! (Note: I don’t get into brands here. I’m not brand particular, and that is a personal decision.)
So, without further ado, here is my list of products I think no ostomate should live without.
1. The one-piece drainable pouch system.
If you’ve had your ostomy for long enough that your body has completely healed around your surgery site, you may be ready for a one-piece drainable pouch system (one-piece pouch systems are available for urostomies but the pouch will drain urine instead of solid or liquid waste).
Normally, you wear a two-piece system consisting of a wafer and a pouch. The wafer sticks to your abdominal skin and protects the sensitive skin around your stoma from the acidity of your output. The pouch then attaches to the wafer. It’s a pretty simple system, but what if you could cut out a step by having a one-piece system where the wafer and pouch come already attached? This system will get you out of the door faster than before, so you can get on with your life.
Just as with a two-piece system, one-piece systems come with or without convexity, with or without extended-wear wafers, and as drainable or closed pouches (except urostomy pouches, which are all drainable). Your style is completely your preference, and you get the same amount of wear time from a two-piece wafer as a one-piece wafer.
I suggest a drainable pouch because, if taken care of properly, you can wear a drainable pouch for multiple days in a row and empty it at any toilet. A closed pouch, on the other hand, has to be disposed of when it is full, and who knows at what inconvenient time that could happen!
2. Lubricating ostomy deodorant.
If you use a drainable fecal pouch, get yourself some ostomy lubricating deodorant. This gel makes your life so much easier by removing odors from your pouch and preventing solid matter from sticking to the sides of the bag. This makes draining the pouch easier, which makes your life easier.
Many pouches also come with built-in charcoal filters, but that’s more for the odor associated with gas leaving the bag, as opposed to odor from waste inside the bag. If your pouch doesn’t come with a filter, find one that does. This is almost standard nowadays. You should not have to “burp” your bag anymore, nor risk it ballooning up due to gas.
3. Swabstick adhesive removers, skin prep, and any other kind of skin wipe.
Before you apply the wafer part of your pouching system, you will need to clean the skin to remove any oils or soap residue that would prevent the wafer from sticking to the skin. DO NOT USE BABY WIPES. The aloe and soothing agents in baby wipes leave a residue that prevents wafers from properly sticking.
You must clean your skin with an adhesive remover to remove any old glue agents. These removers will remove any natural body oil as well. The reason many of these removers work so well is that they are alcohol based. If your skin is not under duress, you will be fine using these alcohol based wipes, but I recommend using a swabstick because who wants their hands to smell like rubbing alcohol?
After the alcohol has evaporated and the skin no longer feels wet, you can wipe the skin with a skin prep swabstick, which adds a sticky layer to the skin. Again, I recommend using a swabstick because who wants to have gluey hands while working with their ostomy products?
4. Stoma caps.
A stoma cap is essentially a shower cap for your stoma. It is not see-through. It’s not a substitute for a pouch. It will NOT hold more than a few ounces of output (read the instructions on the box first before deciding how long you can wear a stoma cap).
What a stoma cap is, is a cover for your stoma to protect it while you shower or bathe, swim, have sex, or anytime you need to cover your stoma but don’t want a bag hanging from your body. Stoma caps are a wonderful item that keep you living a healthy, active lifestyle.
Stoma caps come as either one-piece systems or two-piece systems. They also come with all of the varieties that any other pouching system comes with. If you are comfortable with your pouching system, then finding a stoma cap to fit your needs should be easy.
5. Ostomy support garments.
Whether you wear a one-piece system or a two-piece system, sometimes your body just isn’t feeling it. You feel bloated. You overeat. You have gas. Your bag is rubbing weirdly against your clothing. Something is just getting in the way of you being comfortable with your ostomy.
On these days — or for some people, everyday — an ostomy support garment is key. A support garment is a fitted band of fabric to wear around your abdomen. You wear it over your ostomy system. This keeps your ostomy pouch closer to your body. It helps smooth out any bumps or obvious wrinkles. It helps carry the weight of your system if you are already feeling bloated.
These easy-to-slip-on items smooth the appearance of a pouch, so that it doesn’t show from under your clothes. They give support and style, all in one thin undergarment.
Being comfortable with your body and your life is key when you have an ostomy.
You are busy enough as it is that you don’t need to add worries, tasks, or time-consuming chores to your life. It is our hope that this list presents products you’ve never thought of or heard of and that you can continue your research of them until you find out what works for you.
And if you have questions about any of the ostomy products listed here, don’t hesitate to contact us or comment below.
SuLauren Wilson is the founder of Finnegan Medical Supply, an online medical supply store based in Little Rock, Ark. She blogs regularly on issues affecting the company’s patients. Although, she has many years of experience in the healthcare industry, she is not a licensed medical professional, and the content of her posts should not be considered medical advice.