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Thread: wife learning bowel program for husband

  1. #1

    wife learning bowel program for husband

    My husband was injured in an accident in Jan and will hopefully be coming home from rehab in May. He is c6,c7 and has very weak, limited hand function. I am going to be learning how to take care of his "bowel management program" on my own this week at rehab. I am terrified and mortified. I never imagined being in this situation. He has told me some of what is involved in this, but I know he is too embarrased to let me know all the details. Any other wives out there who can give me any advice on how to get over this?

  2. #2
    Learning to do it, and being responsible for doing it on a regular basis are two different things. I think it is helpful for a family member who is a spouse to learn how to do it, so that you can do it in a pinch, or supervise a personal care attendant doing it, but I would really discourage you both, if possible from you doing this on a regular basis. Get a caregiver for this care if you can. It is very difficult, impossible for many, to maintain a lover/sexual relationship with the person that you do bowel care for. Bladder care is similar.

    Many people with a C6-7 injury learn to do most if not all of their own bowel care with the proper adaptive equipment such as a suppository inserter and digital stimulator, as well as a "toilet aid" for clean up. Has he been issued these tools and taught how to use them??


  3. #3

    bowel program

    My 24 year old son is a C6 quad and I do his bowel program. It is not that big a deal after you get over the embarrassment part. Just get in there and learn how to do it. If you want specific details, I can give them to you. Maybe on a personal email if you would like that better. It is very easy and takes about an hour or alittle longer each day. Learning exactly how the anus is designed is a huge part of making the procedure go easily. Also, not rushing it. When you think the person is done, alittle more comes. Cleanliness is huge also. Use handiwipes between dig stims, everything always gently. I help my son with bladder management, but he can do some of it on his own. He uses a hollister intermittent catheter, but I have to open the bags. I set it all out on a table in the bedroom and he can do it himself. For more instruction, let me know. It was hard to figure out how to get the stick out with little hand function. It can all be done and now it does not seem to be a big deal. It was at first, but you get used to it. Better than a leg bag or poop bag, at least for my son. Any more questions?

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Galloway, Ohio
    My daughter 20 years old and is a C6/C7 incomplete. I felt the same way that you do when I first learned about the "bowel program" - I had no idea. It has been more difficult for Sarah than for me but has gotten easier over time. You just do what you have to do and move on. We have worked out a good schedule and make it as painless (so to speak) as possible.

  5. #5
    newc6c7wife, it would help to know what specifically mortifies and terrifies you about this -- fear of being up close and personal with poop? Concern over hurting him? Embarrassment that you need to "touch him back there"?

    You both need to find a way to get past the embarrassment -- clear, precise communication is so important. I suggest you you take the person who will be teaching you both aside before training begins and explain you're both embarrassed about the act and ask him/her to help you both work on getting more comfortable with how to talk about it. It's been my experience that once my spouse and I understood each others' fears, concerns, etc. and developed language to talk about what was going on, it made it a LOT easier for both of us to deal with.
    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
    New C6C7wife, I understand exactly how you feel,I felt the same way.Mortified.
    My husband is C3 and has no use of arms, so it is just part of the way things are now. He has been home from rehab a year. Hopefully your husband will be able to do it on his own at some point as SCI nurse said. I am not an expert on level of injury function.
    There was an aide/tech at the rehab where Dave was that we really liked. I requested she help me the first few times so I would feel more comforatable. That made all of the difference.
    After a few times it went fine. Are they helping you where you are at?
    We have a morning aide during the week, but finding the two we have was nearly impossible and we have had a hard time finding a third. We can not find an agency in our area that will take someone with all of Dave's needs. That is another story....
    What SCI nurse said is true and ideal of course, but you do what you have to do. Aides may be unreliable. We like to go to the lake and no one there to do it.
    We have a Hoyer lift and sling to get Dave on the commode chair, but many can transfer using a sliding board or with less help.
    I give Dave a magic bullet suppository using a glove and lubrication. I get the lubrication gel at Walmart and is inexpensive. Some people use a liquid suppository called Enemeeze. (sp?)
    After about 20 mn I use my finger (gloved of course) and make circular movements . I only go up half an inch or so. Sometimes this takes several tries, everyone is different. At first he would get AD (I hope they are teaching you about things like that) and we would stop for a few minutes. When I get a clean finger we know he is done and as mfrench said using the wipes (Walmart brand baby wipes is what we use) important. We do it every other day. On the days we have an aide she gives him his shower while the suppository is in because he usually does not go right away. She puts a small tub under just in case.
    Other people might do it different, but that is how we were taught. With our bathroom configuration it is hard to get his commode over the toilet like many people do. We use a medium size garbage container with a heavy plastic bag. Again, this is how they did it at rehab, so that is how we learned it. Another man our aide helps sits over the toilet.
    Dave rarely has an accident or "invol" as they called it where Dave was at. Sometimes he needs Miralax and also takes a stool softener. Your doctor should help you with that. If he is on an antibiotic it can cause loose stool for him. I have plenty of chux (disposable pads) for clean up if he is in bed. My problem is that he is a big guy and I am not and I also have scoliosis, but we manage. Luckily this does not happen often.
    We are fortunate to have a very good friend that is willing to do this in an absolute emergency.
    There are a lot of threads here with information. I will stress this is how we do it, others may jump in and tell you something that works for them.
    This is a wonderful site for information. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by LindaT View Post
    I give Dave a magic bullet suppository using a glove and lubrication. I get the lubrication gel at Walmart and is inexpensive. Some people use a liquid suppository called Enemeeze. (sp?)
    After about 20 mn I use my finger (gloved of course) and make circular movements . I only go up half an inch or so. Sometimes this takes several tries, everyone is different. At first he would get AD (I hope they are teaching you about things like that) and we would stop for a few minutes.

    ...just a couple of comments regarding lubrication and AD. I used to get AD nearly every time I had a bowel movement. There is something called Lidocaine Jelly (you will need a prescription). It has done wonders in reducing my AD episodes related to bowel movements. Another thing that has helped me tremendously is taking Miralax along with a stool softener every evening. I have discovered that not allowing my BM's to get hard and/or irregular greatly reduces the chance of AD. Good luck!
    "The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off." -Gloria Steinem

  8. #8
    Good point about the Lidocaine Jelly Danine.
    I forgot they used that the first couple months.
    He has been fortunate to not have any of those episodes for quite a while.

  9. #9
    Thank you to everyone who replied to my post. My husband has been told about the devices that may help him to do most of the bowel program without too much assistance, but of course it will take time to be independent with these. We have no private insurance coverage, but we may qualify for 2 hours a day of outside help from a gov't agency, but they may determine that if I am capable of all of his care, then I will have to do it. I suppose everyone is right about that you do what you have to do, and that we will both eventually get over the embarrassment. Another thing that bothers me is that they are doing everything in his bed right now. They say that they just don't have the time to get him up on the commode chair every morning, so they just leave him in bed and come back to clean him up later. Most mornings, he is served his breakfast before the bowel program is even over! How is this even humane! I can't wait til he can be home again, even if I have to take care of everything, at least it will be in a bathroom, over a toilet!

  10. #10
    Are you at a rehab hospital? They only did Dave's in bed the first couple weeks when he was still in tough shape and having respitory and blood pressure issues. They did it at night there. I don't know about other places. I can see why it bothers you that they don't have time.
    I was so mortified at first I thought I was supposed to leave. I thought about you today and what it was like those first few months.
    After doing it a few times it really was not a big deal. It helps that we have been married a long time and have had a sense of humor. I know it is not funny, but that is how we have gotten through a lot.
    I hope you can get some help and that there is someone looking into these things for you.
    This is a good place for info. I wish I knew about it earlier.

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