Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Consummate Ostomate: Horizontal or Vertical?

My stoma's 8th birthday is coming up on August 29th which has prompted me to share some of the wit and wisdom I've gained over the last 8 years of living with an ileostomy. (There will be repeated instances of TMI. You've been duly warned so only read if you want to know far more about me than you might find comfortable.)

Horizontal or Vertical?
I've gotten so used to my bag that I seldom think about it. I've found the right combination to create a long-lasting seal so the issue of leaks has not been a problem for me in ages. However, when I go to the gym to do strength training I become very aware of my bag because it gets caught up in my inguinal crease on my right side as I wear my bag vertically with just a slight left angle for emptying. I don't wear underwear underneath the spandex pants because: first, I don't like wearing underwear since becoming an ostomate so I don't; second, I hate panty lines visible when wearing spandex; third, underwear probably wouldn't help much in keeping my bag out of the crease zone. Thus after using certain machines I surreptitiously adjust my bag and feel like a major league baseball player caught on camera digging at his crotch.

Certainly I'm not the only ostomate to experience this issue so I began investigating remedies. I found that I could simply wear a tube top around my mid-riff to tuck away my bag. Sounds too much like wearing underwear to me. I could get an ostomy pouch that is suspended from a belt. It's basically a variation of a fanny pack and since it is custom made to fit you and your bag they want to know if you wear your bag vertical or horizontal. I'm reminded of an old analog TV set my family had when I was a kid that had some knobs labeled "horizontal" and "vertical". One day my curiosity was overwhelming and I just had to twist them to find out what they did...

When a new ostomate is born we all get a visit from the ostomy nurse who teaches us how to apply wafers and bags around our stoma. All bags are designed to be worn on the vertical---but there are some rogue ostomates out there who figured out that the bag can be worn on the horizontal---gasp! It just didn't seem right to me to wear the bag horizontal, but then I realized it might just solve my issue at the gym.

So with my last bag change I opted to add a little more left angling to my bag position. As you can see it's not a true 90° angle but enough to get the tail of the bag out of my inguinal crease. It worked out perfectly!
My bag is at the 5 o'clock position

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