Short Gut Syndrome Parents' Support Group
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February 27, 2010
10:30 a.m.

Taylorsville Library
4870 S. 2700 W.
Salt Lake City, UT
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An ostomy bag leak survival story

by Emily Hoopes, mother

We’d just reached our cruising altitude. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. For the very first time, I’d gotten my son and myself safely through the airport and onto an airplane all by myself! This was no small feat with TPN, feeding pump, g-tube and ostomy supplies in tow. But I’d done it, and was even still smiling after take-off.

Patrick was 9 months old and we were flying to an appointment with a specialist out of state. Due to complications from gastroschisis, he’d lost most of his small intestine at birth and now had a “duodenostomy”. Since then, no trip was simple.

My enthustic mood came to an end before drink service, as I felt a familiar warm feeling on my stomach and knew that Patrick’s ostomy bag had just come loose enough to leak.

I took a quick assessment of my surroundings. There was no way I’d be able to change his pouch in the tiny lavatory of this bouncy airplane. Instead, I quickly but subtly drained what I could from the pouch, wrapped a couple of diapers around Patrick’s waistline to contain the mess, and waited out the flight.

When we landed, I made the quickest possible exit from the plane and high-tailed it to the closest “family restroom.” When they’re available, the extra space in a family restroom makes pouch changes on an infant so much easier!

One of the best tips taught to me when we were learning ostomy care for Patrick was to keep a ready ostomy kit. The little bag I always carried in his diaper bag held everything I needed for this kind of emergency: pouches and wafers pre-cut to size, adhesive remover, make-up removal sponges to clean his skin, an Eakin ring, stoma paste, and stoma powder, and - last but not least - a couple of self-heating handwarmers.

I put down a changing mat, strapped Patrick to the changing table, and set to work. With my hand-warmer warming and a wafer tucked into my bra to warm it, I quickly cleaned up the mess with one hand while the other hand held my little boy still. I couldn’t help thinking that the nurses who were amazed to see me to one-handed pouch changes in the hospital would be in awe if they could just see me now.

A change of clothes later, we were back on our way - just on time to catch our suitcases being unloaded from the baggage carousel.

Sometimes having a child with an ostomy can be daunting. It’s easier to stay home than to risk a disaster away from home. But, as a survivor of an airport pouch change, I can testify that it is possible, and better yet, worth the effort to take the risk of living life anyway.

My pride getting on the airplane was nothing compared to what I felt as I felt walking out the airport doors.

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