If I am being completely honest, I am not the biggest lover of the summer I’m sure many people would be shocked at that as summer tends to be everyone’s favourite but I like autumn best! Sure, I like the longer days and the days out are far more enjoyable (or at least the kids whine less!) I am also more aware of my ileostomy as I wear less layers, I can’t say more dresses because I pretty much live in them all year round.
No, it is because I notice my bag being damper from sweat, which has led to skin irritations and rashes and then the base plate being gummier. I generally find this is when it moves on my body and that is when I am probably going to leak, well if it isn’t food based or the fact my stoma is retracting further into my stomach wall.
This is obviously inconvenient at any time but I am a home care worker and often can be caught short going between homes or my house and work. I don’t need to tell you dear readers of how freaking awful that is and how it affects both me and my work. Thankfully the person I visit the most frequently has a little stash bag with clean underwear and bag changes in her bathroom. I am lucky her family is nice and let me leave things there as it means it’s one less thing for me to carry around with me or remember to bring. Sure, in my handbag I always have a spare set but I don’t always have it with me!
I find that during the warmer months I have to be more careful or should I say vigilant with my appliances as a rule anyway. For instance, it isn’t the greatest idea leaving your spare stuff in the car because the heat that is stored even in the boot can cause the adhesive on the base plate to warp or even melt away. Which is probably the worst thing that could happen whilst you are experiencing discomfort or in some cases embarrassment. Heck I still get embarrassed even when my stoma makes a loud noise depending who I am with. Also, on the flip side in winter they can become brittle or need warming up before use.
Now as mentioned above the warmer weather is upon us and our bodies and base plates can stop sticking together quite as well as they usually would because well our bodies sweat. Moisture and adhesive don’t go hand in hand and this can be bothersome for a few reasons:
- They can cause a constant or more noticeable wet feeling
- It can become itchy especially if you have sensitive skin or like me eczema under the base plate
- They can begin to roll down or unfurl heck even just come away entirely! Seriously it happened to me once before!
- It could cause leaks; which no ostomate wants to deal with
There are a few things we can do help with this and these are my top tips:
- Having spare changes with you just in case you do leak; because even if you are content with your appliances and experience very few leaks the warmer weather is a wild card
- Changing your appliance more frequently so even if that is decreasing your appliance length by a day
- Wearing flange/tape extenders as these increase the surface area and add a bit of security – the photo attached to the blog shows a tape extender on the top of my base plate where I get the most of my issues
- Using talc just to dry up the moisture around your skin; I use this on the skin where the bag rests against my body underneath the base plate. It just gives me a bit of peace of mind if nothing else as I am prone to dermatitis
I am also going to take the time to reiterate how important keeping hydrated with an ostomy is! So, as you know if you have a bowel-based stoma you probably aren’t using your large bowel be it because its bypassed (temporary ostomy) or just not there (permanent ostomy) and that was what reabsorbed the liquid into your body from your stool (poo) Drinking plenty is incredibly important for your body to work properly and if you have a urostomy drinking is still important for many reasons such as flushing out bacteria that could cause infections. Knowing that we need to hydrate more and even just being more aware of how just one extra glass of water can make us feel worlds better and can even help regulate our output.
I say that because have you ever eaten too much starchy food and then be left with thick output that tries to pancake and push off your base plate? I do often but sadly mine is due to Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and that slows down my digestion but being hydrated does help. Drinking enough helps to ensure everything is at the right consistency and I was always told that was like toothpaste or porridge. Sorry if that has ruined your favourite breakfast cereal!
Do you have any tips or tricks to deal with the warmer weather with your ostomy or how it may affect your ostomy base plate? Do you have any clever ways to increase how much fluid you drink?