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  • Writer's pictureAustin Birks

What’s The Difference Between A Stoma Bag And A Volcano...

Well, there is a question, is it not? Easy answer is, of course, that a volcano is obviously a natural phenomenon of a fissure that links the land mass on earth with a deep access of molten lava that can potentially awake and explode resulting in huge plumes of dust, rocks, and even worse boiling lava, cascading down ravines destroying all in its path. On the other hand, a stoma bag, is a plastic bag that sits around a specially created part of the bowel that expels human waste.

Sounds very obvious, but let me tell you, if you actually own a stoma bag, the similarity between the two can on occasions be all to real. Anyone who has experienced the joy of a colonoscopy, or indeed a tummy upset will know how appalling the stoma reaction can be. Indeed, I can recall with horrific clarity the awful day that my otherwise passive and manageable stoma bag took on a mind of its own. It was frankly horrific and shocking at the same time. It reminded me of a Second World War flame thrower. Indeed, Billy Connolly gives an excellent and graphic account of his own experience of a colonoscopy, except he did not own a stoma bag. It is very funny, and as ever very descriptive as only the Big Yin can be.

The reason, by the way, that I mention this joyous parallel is because of a rather strange affliction that I have been dealing with for some weeks now that has seen me having to go to casualty on at least four occasions recently. Let me explain, if I may. When you get bowel cancer, very often you need to have a special operation called the Hartman Procedure; this is a life-saving operation that basically pulls your bowel out of your stomach so that you can pass solid waste out of your system. It requires an adhesive bag being attached that catches the waste, allowing normal life to resume. Without it, sadly death is not far away.

That is all fine and dandy and you just have to get on with it. Which is what I have been doing. Sadly, however, for me recently, my stoma bag appeared to undergo some deeply personal mid-life crisis as it has decided that it is actually found itself a new role. Not unlike the volcanos around the world that suddenly without any warning, wake themselves up and start to get active, so has my stoma bag.

That basically means that it has now decided that it can still work like a bottom. The trouble is that is can never work like a bum, and all that it can do is to start to produce other bodily fluids. I will not go into details, but it is not nice.

This has now resulted in several trips to hospital, where on the last visit I was called into casualty, as I’m at high risk of sepsis. The care was brilliant; straight into a private casualty side room, into a hospital gown and within 5 minutes a very nice, young Asian lady Doctor was telling me that I would be subjected to several tests, including blood, urine, etc. and then she told me that I would need a rectal examination. She then asked me if I would like a chaperone, at this point I was slightly worried. "No, thank you", I replied  "No need, just do what you need to do." So she did. Suffice to say, it was very painful and frankly not what I would expect on a first date.

So, as it stands, about 20 times a day, I have to deal with this problem. I’m reliably informed that my impending surgery will alleviate the problem. I cannot wait to get back to normal. It is a very challenging experience and a real test when teaching Karate as you really do not want to experience this challenge when wearing a Karate suit. Not long to go and then hopefully back to normal, whatever that is ....

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Mar 15, 2020

Where on earth do these analogies come from? Genius AB!!! NGUNGI :)


Mar 15, 2020

Austin thank you for this further insight I’ve said it before you would make a brilliant author.

Myself and many of us who are privileged to receive or read your blogs learn so much in medical terms about your cancer journey soap inspirational and truly motivating my friend .

Take care and look forward to the next blog David

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