Gas & Bloating

I am now just over 4 weeks post ileostomy reversal and things are going ok. I’m handling food but staying within the low residue diet, my scar has healed nicely on the outside; I’m not in any pain and I’m only using the toilet 3-4 times a day, my bum screams ‘hallelujah’! The only big problem is in the afternoons my stomach seems to inflate like a balloon and I have the worse gas I’ve ever experienced. This problem has forced me to use the internet as a resource. I don’t really like doing this for some things just because of the accuracy of the information you are receiving, but for things like herbal remedies, there is a plethora of information at your fingertips.

The first thing I tried was peppermint tea; most of us within the IBD world have used this remedy one time or another. You can buy it from any food retailer. After drinking this all afternoon I concluded that in my case right now, it doesn’t work well enough. (Also chamomile, ginger and lemon tea are supposed to help)

A family friend passed on some wisdom about chewing Fennel Seeds. After a little research I saw that this was an old age remedy and you can crush the seeds in a pestle and mortar and spoon this into boiling water to drink, (see photo above) the oil is what helps, so drink it as soon as you can without burning your mouth. I tried this technique for 3 days and it definitely helped in getting the gas out, but the uncomfortable bloating and has pain was still there.

I felt like I needed to talk to a professional so I contacted one of the colorectal nurses at the hospital. The bloating is in fact normal after an operation like this; see it as your bowel having a bit of a hissy fit for having to get back to work after a 12 month sabbatical. It’s going to take a long time to get back into the swing of things!

The outcome of that conversation was to take over the counter wind tablets, Windeeze or that equivalent and also take a Probiotics drink or yoghurt which I already do. I tried the tablets for a few days, taking the highest dosage when I needed them and they do something for sure, but not enough.

The next thing was to try exercising, this should help make my bowel move and help with digestion, the trouble is trying to get off the settee when you just want to curl up and be miserable. Yesterday I managed to drag myself off the sofa and onto my yoga mat for the first time since the op. It was just after my 4th small meal so I can already feel the food stacking up. This is my now number 1 remedy. My stomach didn’t fill up like before, I could walk with a straight back, I didn’t experience stomach pains or ache, it was a big relief (literally) to find something that works.

If you are new to yoga, or just don’t fancy all that, there are some simple positions you can lie in which will help relieve the pain and bloating. Give them a search and you will generally see the same ones crop up, reclined twist, cat-cow, knees to chest; I even do them whilst watching TV or whilst I am in bed!

I hope some of these remedies work for you and if you have your own tips please feel free share below! X

Goodbye Stoma

I have had a good while off writing and that’s because I’ve just had my ileostomy reversed! 2 weeks ago I went in, I spent 8 of 10 days in hospital and if I’m honest, I found it really tough.

In morning I was up early, drank the powder I was told too, took my meds for the last time and headed in. My surgery was brought forward so instead of waiting till lunch, I was now first up to the block. A nurse came into the waiting room and called my name. Without a thought I burst into tears. My Mum was telling me ‘you’ll be fine, you’ll go to sleep and then wake up and we’ll be there’.

Once I was through the double doors I wiped my face and took some long deep breaths. After I changed into a gown, two IBD Nurses came in and told me they were here to mark an X on my tummy in marker. I had never discussed the possibility of having another stoma put in; it was for ‘just in case’. After they left I was seen by my anesthetist, doctors and finally my own registrar. I then signed my life away I was taken into a sealed room ready for my epidural to be put in and my big fear, being put to sleep. The epidural I suppose wasn’t as bad as I thought; it’s just not natural is it! Of course, my body would be awkward; I overheard that there wasn’t much room for them to put the tube in, which resulted in an awful lot of poking and pushing. After an uncomfortable time in a crouch position, I was bandaged up and then I could finally lie down and be put to sleep.

Once I awoke I was greeted with happy smiles and good news. The surgery had taken only 6 or the 10 hours expected and my bowel was in fact remarkably healthy. I was on the ERAS (enhanced recovery after surgery) so the day after the physiotherapist came to see me and had me up walking around the high dependency ward. I was pain free and feeling pretty positive, it’s amazing what strong painkillers can do to your spirit!

The 3rd day in there after not much sleep at all I realised that I couldn’t lift one of my knees. The other one was fine but I was really struggling lifting the left. They decided to turn my epidural off and just keep me on a PCA machine (a button you press every 5 minutes for strong pain relief). I only knew the epidural was wearing off because I was experiencing intense tingles head to toe. The other sensation I felt was that someone, very large was sat on my chest, pinning me to the bed. I spoke to someone from the pain team but she assured me it can happen sometimes if it’s working too well. It did eventually pass after a few hours.

The next day I was then moved down to a gastro ward, so everyone in there either had a stoma, was having one reversed, or something similar. The days on the ward I found hard, as I’m sure many do when coming down from intensive care or HD; it feels like a massive step down, with only a few nurses to 20+ patients instead of 1:1 or 1:2. But if you are on a ward, it’s only because you’re well enough to be there.

Through the day, nurses and doctors came round to ask ‘how many times have you opened your bowels,’ to which I always replied, ‘I lost count.’ I must have been going to toilet every 20 minutes. It slowed through the night but I was up every hour, catheter and drip stand in hand, sheer panic on my face, running to the toilet. You have to laugh. I’m not going to lie either, I missed my stoma, my reliable, cute as a button stoma. But I bet most people do in those first few days, change can be hard. 

I came home on day 8, weak from not eating for 6 days but so happy to be out. It’s funny you don’t appreciate the colour of the outside, must be because you’re looking at grey/ white walls 24/7. Everything on the car ride home looked so vibrant and I think you appreciate everything in those first few days. I made it home fine, no accidents and now it’s just rest for 6 weeks. No lifting, housework, I can do gentle yoga and swimming but I’m only allowed to eat low residue foods. That’s anything white, pasta, bread, potatoes, nothing interesting at all; I can’t wait for a curry.

Pre Op

I had my Pre Op this week getting ready for my reversal surgery and I thought I’d go through some of it I remember for the few of you who haven’t had one before. Going into hospitals can be daunting so this should hopefully help because you will know what to expect. The first person I spoke with was a Pre Op nurse. She took me into a side room and asked questions about my medical history, allergies, whether I smoke, have diabetes or heart problems. I was told the run down of the day of surgery, when I need to stop eating and drinking and that I will spend my first few days in a High Dependency Unit. She also enquired if I was on contraception and whether I wanted a pregnancy test or not.

We chatted and I explained that I am frightened about having my reversal surgery. I’m not ashamed to say this, I am scared, and I told her some my story, of New Zealand, and specifically about when I was in intensive care about to be transferred to another hospital. I had to be sedated so the doctors could safely move me. During that time I had what the nurse called ‘awareness’. This is when you are aware of what is happening around you, you may hear voices but you cannot move or speak. Patients can also experience strange and frightening hallucinations that will feel very real. I didn’t experience this, but I did feel like I couldn’t move and I awoke in extreme pain due to being turned over on my side only a few days after my ileostomy surgery. This has had a major lasting effect on me physiologically and a year later I still get upset talking about it. The nurse did assure me that this is a common occurrence when patients have spent a long time in an ICU. She said that I needed to make an appointment to see the anesthetist and tell him about my worries and they should put my mind at ease.

Carrying on with the Pre Op, the next step is for your bloods to be taken by a nurse, and for women, perhaps a pregnancy test in which they will tell you the result straight away. They will also check your blood pressure.

Your next assessment is an ECG (the bit were they put those weird stickers on your body and attach little ‘pegs’) and these are linked to a computer, this will only take a few minutes of lying down still. The best part of the assessment!

Finally you will be asked to blow into a tube as hard as you can. A little wolf may be on screen simulating your breath and blowing the little piggies house down. I don’t think this will be the same for every hospital but it was in mine. It will show your lung capacity which will be put inside your assessment file and that should be the end of the appointment.

This was my Pre Op in a UK hospital so please note it may differ hospital to hospital or due to the type of surgery you are having. I just thought I’d give you a little overview of what to expect and maybe help ease any worries some of you may be having! This is the easy part, in a few weeks I will hopefully have my surgery date. I am very nervous, but a little excited at the fact I won’t have my bag anymore.

If any of you would like to share your experiences personally with myself, then please use my ‘Contact Form’ or by commenting on the blog. I’d love to know about your own reversal or stoma op or anything related really, just make sure you leave your email address on the contact form so I can get back to you! :)

 

 

Easy Peasy Wedges

I’ve been making these wedges since I worked in the kitchen at my Student Union at University. When I make them for my friends they are always surprised at how tasty, healthy and easy they are to make. You’ll never buy frozen chips again!

 Turn your oven on 180C to preheat. Chop your potatoes into segments and measure them in portions, I do 2-3 potatoes for 2 people, my portion size is on the larger side ;)

 Put the potatoes onto baking paper on a baking tray or equivalent. If you don’t have baking paper, go and get some because doing them on foil just isn’t worth it, they stick and you end up with little bits of foil on your lovely cooked chips.

 Next, cover the wedges with olive oil (not too much, they don’t want to be swimming in it) and then rub them all over with your hands. Next, pick your spices, get adventurous but remember to stay mindful of what you should avoid such as chilli. I use a piri piri in a salt grinder (Nandos salt is amazing too). If you don’t have these mix it up, oregano, salt, pepper, paprika. I love garlic salt on them! See what you like best and give them a rub down so they are all covered. Put them in for 30-40 minutes, half way through get a spatula and flip them over so they are evenly cooked and crispy.

Keeping Active

When you are  recovering from a serious operation, such as having a Stoma put in, you are advised to ‘take it easy’ and ‘don’t do too much.’ At some point though, it’s been nearly 12 months now since I was hospitalised, you want to start getting active and regaining some fitness back,( not that I had any to begin with!) First I did consult with my Stoma Nurse, she assured me that doing some exercise would do me the world of good with my operation in a few months.

So, 4 weeks ago I stared doing Yoga every morning, only 20 minutes but that 20 minuets seems to be making the world of a difference. Some people seem to believe this myth that having an ileostomy or a colostomy, restricts you from having an active lifestyle. Ostomates can participate in all forms of sporting activities but some may just need to be modified slightly. For example with Yoga I tend to stay away from poses that require me to lie on my stomach. I also wear a Girdle/Hernia Belt/ Abdominal Support Belt. You can find these on the internet and they help to prevent hernias* near the stoma. If in doubt ask your Stoma Nurse.

Swimming is also I good form of gentle excercise. Get yourself a good swimming costume, there are plenty of two pieces around with high waisted knickers too. Have a look at my post ‘Ostomy- What to wear’ for some examples.  If you are worried about your bag, maybe put some extra flange extenders on? However your stoma bag should stick more when submerged in water. Maybe try having a bath first to test it out, put your costume on and have a look to see how obvious your bag is. You’ll feel much more comfortable once you know what it looks like once it is wet.

When you feel ready to, maybe sign up to the gym, do Zumba classes or water aerobics, surfing isn’t even out of the question either! If you are an avid surfer and want to get back into it there is no reason not too. Buy yourself a girdle to keep your bag flat and another tip is not eat or drink an hour before, so your Stoma isn’t as active. I have tried surfing however I didn’t have a girdle and I notice my bag was being nudged which made the bag leak. You would have to play around a bit with what feels comfortable and works best.

*StomaWise explain simply what a Stoma Hernia is, and some information  on the treatment for it if you would like to read more.

Pizza Dough

You’ll be surprised but pizza dough only has a few ingredients that you would generally have within the home, so stop buying pizza that is full of bad stuff and make the dough, it will only take you about 10 minutes. It’s also a really good way to use everything up in your fridge!

Ingredients for the Base:

  • Bread Flour – 300g
  • 1 Sachet or Fast Action Yeast (2 X 7g)
  • Salt – 1 tsp.
  • Olive Oil- 1 tbsp.

Sauce:

  • 2 cups of Passata
  • Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper
  • ½ tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1-2 Cloves of garlic crushed

Recommended Toppings for ileostomies:

  • Bacon, Sausage
  • Sandwich Meats- pastrami, ham
  • Spanish meats
  • Egg (put it on the pizza for the last 2-3 mins of cooking time and make a little circle with your toppings so it has somewhere to sit nicely and doesn’t flood everywhere)
  • Mild cheese like Cheddar, Goats cheese is AMAZING on there
  • Try to avoid vegetables like tomatoes or hard vegetables like peppers or onions

To make the base;

Put the flour into a mixing bowl and mix in the salt then make a well. Get a measuring jug with 200ml of warm water and pour the yeast into it, give it a stir and pour this into the well then add the olive oil. Bring it all together with a wooden spoon until you have a soft but wet dough. Tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead* for about 5 minutes.  It should look smooth and when you poke it, it should bounce back. Leave it to one side cover with a tea towel. Put your oven on 220C Fan and pull your oven shelves out to one side.

Now make the sauce by putting all the ingredients into a pan and heat for 5 minutes then leave to one side.

Roll out the dough, give it a quick knead as it may have started to rise and then split it evenly to make your two pizza bases. Roll them out into large circles using a rolling pin, mine never turn out like this but give it a go, they don’t have to be perfect. You also want to make them thin because they will rise. Cover your oven shelves with baking paper, then roll your base on to it and top with all your goodies. Add a drizzle of olive oil and some more seasoning. I cook one pizza at a time, and they should stay in for 8-10 minutes at the top of the oven. Keep an eye on them and pull them out when you feel they are done enough. They should be crispy around the edges and the cheese should be bubbling.

*If you don’t know how to knead properly, believe me I couldn’t remember from DT at school, just type it into Youtube there are loads of videos explaining how to do it.

Hot Drinks

Your Ensure, Fortsip or equivalent isn’t limited to cold drinks. You can put these in your teas and coffees however supplement drinks are not meant to boiled so do be careful whilst heating the drinks up. But other than that there is nothing wrong with using a Vanilla flavour in your cups of Tea, Coffee or Earl Grey.

If you like Horlicks you could add some Vanilla powder or Hot Chocolate can be made with the Chocolate Flavoured Ensure Powder OR use a proper Hot Chocolate Mix and then add Vanilla Powder with a bit of milk! Have a play around and find out what you like best!

 

 

 

 

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