In day to day life terms, having an infant with an colostomy means changing bags of stool rather than dirty diapers. Okay, that shouldn't require more time or resources than a diaper change, right? WRONG. WRONG. Wrong.
I had an appointment at Baby's bedside with our DC, Carmelita. She brought along two WOCNs to do the work while she explained the steps involved in a bag change. The theory is very pat:Every three to five days (the expected time a bag could last) take off old bag and "wafer" (that's a disk shaped adhesive which sits on Baby's tummy, just around the sticky-out-bit of intestine) with a soapy wet cloth or paper towel. Rinse area with a non-soapy wet towel and DRY well. Measure stoma (another word for sticky-out-bit) and cut out the donut hole to size in a fresh wafer. Warm the wafer - we just rubbed it between our hands, but people do you things like heating blankets and blow dryers- to activate the sticky goodness. Plunk wafer over stoma and smooth down onto skin using gentle pressure and heat to make a good seal. Peel the backing off the adhesive on the bag itself and stick to the wafer. Done. Simple. Or it was when I watched two highly trained and experienced nurses do it, with me holding Baby still and keeping him calm.
See the wafer and cute teddy bear pouch? Yeah, they look easy to handle, don't they? It must be the squirmy baby factor that does it, is all.
Anyway, there was just one important thing to keep in mind. By any and all means possible, do not let baby get a diaper rash on his sensitive tummy skin. No problem. The wafer covers the skin, well sealed, and the icky stuff sits in the bag, not on the skin. Easy as pie. Now you know why I don't bake. I don't find pie easy. The nurses all assured me - over and over- that I would "get used to it" that I would "find a way that works" that I could "experiment with different products to get a good seal" that with "trial and error" I would become expert. At the time, I thought that meant it's easy, it just takes getting the knack. I should have thought about all the red flags in their reassuring language. Trial and Error? Lots of Different Products to fiddle with? I'd like it down to a science, it seems more of an art. Ahh, the ignorance. The bliss.
I did change the pouch system once when we were in hospital. The nurse on duty told me to do it however I felt comfortable, she would just watch and comment if absolutely necessary. So it was. I think the seal on the pouch-and-wafer that I put on held out about 2 hours. So much for 3 to 5 days! And they told me to teach Daddy how to do it! Blind leading the blind, people. (To be fair, when we got home Daddy changed the pouch and it stayed clean for 12 hours. He managed that trick TWICE. Easy as pie. Guess who has been hired to bake around here?)
To close, I present a random moment from sometime during our hospital stay:
Nurse: what's his name?
Me: He doesn't have a name yet - we're waiting to circumcise him and name him then.
Nurse: That's okay. Just make sure it's a name you can yell in a crowded mall. I mean, some names parents give their kids. . .
We'll do our best to oblige, thanks for the sagacious words of wisdom.