Leaking stoma bags and ‘the window’

Leaking stoma bags and ‘the window’

Anecdote 1- Mr. Ahmed

“Nurse B, my bag leaks again! The other nurse A applied the bag just thirty minutes ago!” called Mr. Ahmed, a bed-ridden patient.

“Sigh! Look at the mess! Now I have to change a new bag again, the bed linens and your hospital clothes!” Nurse B grumbled as she changed the linens and the stoma bag…

Nurse Chen saw the patient tearing silently. She went toward him.

Nurse Chen, see that window? If only I can walk! I would jump out of it!” he cried sadly.

“What is the point of ‘saving my life from cancer of the large intestine’, if my life is such a mess everyday!” he lamented the poor quality of life after operation.

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That happened in the late 1980s. A small pioneering team of surgeons and nurses were tasked to look into the care of patients who were operated and had a stoma (<—see the images here) on their abdomen or ‘tummy’.

Those days stoma bags were a basic bag with zinc oxide adhesive (below). Very often it leaked and the fecal effluent spilled all over their clothes and bed linens. The skin around the stoma became excoriated or burned by the frequent contact with the excrements. It became inflamed and excruciatingly painful.

It was very depressing for the patients, and frustrating for the patient, home-carer and healthcare staff, too.

A simple basic stoma bag with zinc oxide adhesive.

Upon discharge, some patients used cloth, new-papers, coconut shell, empty tins over their stoma to collect the effluents. Some created their own stoma bags (see below).

Self-made stoma bag for faecal effluent or discharge
“This is created by my patient in Penang!” said ET Tai SB of Penang.

Published by Chen S. P. @ TPTan

Serena Chen @TPTan, Master degree in nursing (Monash) . Serena teaches local and overseas nurses in a stomaltherapy program. She had presented papers internationally. Serena is a member of the ‘Golden Key International Society (Monash). She was an editor of a mental health bulletin and she enjoys pottery works, cartoons, painting and poems. She shares insightful experiences about being a carer for people with mental illness and cancer in this defining society.

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