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Thread: Irrigating with a colostomy

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Seattle, WA , USA

    Unhappy Irrigating with a colostomy

    I am T10/11 incomplete para. After months (and years) of struggling with my bowels I finally had a colostomy, which I'm very happy with. It has simplified my bowel program and given me hours back each day. A win/win.

    Now I have a question: Do any of you irrigate? I have been irrigating every day for awhile now but recently have noticed a significant problem. At night I am cathing huge volumes of urine, upwards to 1,000 CCs some nights, and leaking during the day (which is new). Could it be from irrigating my colostomy? It's the only extra source of liquid I'm ingesting. I even stopped liquids after 7 pm to try to address the problem.

    I thought at first I had a UTI, but the culture came back clean.

    I am getting tired of having to wear Depends.

    Any insights? Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Hi Wheelady -
    There are at least 2 people on this site who irrigate to manage our colostomies. I am one !
    The other, Scott, will pipe in here too I am sure. Welcome to the wonderful world of irrigation - the only way to fly if you can do it.
    I have been irrigating for 8 years, my schedule is to irrigate every 48 hours, and it takes 1 hour. I wear stoma caps or an AMPpatch (a large bandaid) or a Coloplast minibag one piece.
    If you want to learn the ins and outs of irrigation, you won't learn it here. You have to go to the Irrigation Forum of the UOAA

    Everybody talks about how to manage irrigation there. We also have a good laugh there considering how bizarre the topic is. I think me and Scott are the only 2 paras there and everyone else is a cancer surviver. Very nice folks.

    But to answer your question - you are correct. Irrigation is like drinking a quart of water. Water is absorbed in the colon and everyone even AB normal bladder people note they have to void a lot after irrigation. In one sense it is good that it assures you are hydrated but I could see that it is a pain if you are leaking (euphemism for pissing all over the place) at night. Now that you know this, you have to adapt to it. Void 2 hours after irrigation. Irrigate in the morning and void more frequently. Try to get to irrigation every other day. If you got fancy, you could dissolve salt (NaCl) in you irrigation water. That will increase the osmolarity of the irrigation fluid. That might minimize the amount of water absorbed but I wouldn't do that first and save that for the last ditch effort which I bet you won't need.
    The Irrigation forum at the UOAA can help. There is no other better source of information, certainly not from physicians or even ostomy nurses (no offense to anyone out there).
    I hope this helps you. Let me know if there are any other questions or post them on that Irrigation Forum.
    Happy irrigation New Years ! !

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Seattle, WA , USA

    Wink thanks for the irrigation info

    Hey Arndog
    Thanks so much for all the useful info. I pee an awful lot as it is already. It's weird because I irrigate in the morning, yet I have the problem at night after I lie down. I think the lying down part is key. I started out irrigating every other day, but kind of thought I wasn't getting all the results I needed. Constipation has been an issue ever since my injury in 1996. A constant battle. That part hasn't changed. I liked irrigating every other day because it gave me so much more time.

    Here's the thing: I start by taking in about 1,000 CCs of water, but that usually doesn't do the trick. It just comes back out clear. So I put in another 1,000 and most of the time that works. I think it's a mistake for me to be using so much water, though. Maybe I'll just give up after 1,000 CCs and let nature take its course eventually.

    I actually have an awesome ostomy nurse who has held my hand the whole way. I think she's a rare find. Anyway, I just emailed her about this problem since it just occurred to me today. I'm sure she'll get back to me on Monday. I will check out that website. Thanks for that, too.

    Irrigating IS the only way to go and it's only been three months since my surgery so I'm sure my body is still adjusting to the new "equipment." I'm still very happy I did it. It was the best decision I've made since my injury. I don't know why more SCI people don't do it. It's not as "gross" as some people would think, and it simplifies your life in so many ways. I've had no problems with odor or leakage from the pouch. It's all very clean and tidy. I highly recommend it.

  4. #4
    Wheelady -
    I infuse about 1.5 to 2 liters of water. I also like to start irrigation hydrated, if you aren't, then the water gets rapidly absorbed. Hey, it took me 2 to 3 years (okay, I am a slow learner evidently) to get really 'good' at irrigation. Believe me we all have made mistakes and had the dreaded code brown at the most inconvenient times. Part of the learning curve. You will figure it out-

    Question -
    Do you have bladder capacity issues? Have you had urodynamics to evaluate bladder pressures recently? Probably not a bad idea to do. I do urodynamics every other year .....

  5. #5
    Wheelady, I'm not an ostomate, but it seems there ought to be some combination of stool softeners, bulking fiber (Metamucil/flax meal), probiotics, etc. that, combined with adequate daily dietary fiber (30 g) and water (three liters) intake, that could help ease the constipation so maybe you wouldn't need the second infusion of water when you irrigate. Are you using any of these remedies?
    It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.

    ~Julius Caesar

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    middle georgia
    not trying to take thread but i am c6c7 love my colostomy but.... hate the bags and..

    is irrigating a way to bypass and what does it intail

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Spring Hill , Florida

    Any One Irrigate a Transverse Loop Colostomy?

    I just had colostomy surgery on 12-10-09. I saw the surgeon today for the 1st post op visit & he mentioned irrigation to me. I have a transverse loop colostomy. Does any one irrigate this type of colostomy? I've read that it's not possible as this type of colostomy is unpredicatable. I will meet w/the Ostomy/Wound Care Nurse tomorrow & I will ask her about it. I'm not sure if she was still in the exam room when the surgeon mentioned to me about irrigating my colostomy. If it's possible I know that I will have to wait for awhile as I'm still healing & I don't want to cause any damage.

    Please advise!

    Thank you!

  8. #8
    So you guys have me a little freaked out. Wheelady and Arndog you both have lower injuries than I do (which I had assumed was good) and are incomplete (I am complete) Is a colostomy something I have to expect at some point?


  9. #9
    t8burst - don't be freaked out. In my case the colostomy was not elective. When I had my accident 8 years ago I had a SCI at L1 but I also managed to have an open pelvic fracture and rip my colon off my rectum - ouch ! ! So I was paralyzed, and leaking feces in an open wound on an open pelvic fracture. Septic shock did follow this. I had to have a diverting colostomy unrelated to SCI and loss of neurologic function of the rectum and anus. But I also tore half my anus off and left it on the ski run. So I can't be reconnected for both neurologic and anatomical reasons.
    The ostomy is really the easiest part of this whole gig.
    And it wasn't a choice for me.

    Hey, what's going on there with that cow? ? ?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by arndog
    I had a SCI at L1 but I also managed to have an open pelvic fracture and rip my colon off my rectum - ouch ! ! But I also tore half my anus off and left it on the ski run.
    Ouch is an understatement of epic proportion, arndog!

    You are such a wealth of info and so thorough in your answers that I've often been tempted to remark that you really don't do anything half-assed -- little did I know you literally do everything that way!
    It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.

    ~Julius Caesar

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