All right people. Time to learn something new. Exercise your brain. Come on, you know you want to learn new and interesting things about your colon! Today we are talking about ileosomies. Just remember, I’m a mom, not a doctor. I do like to pretend I’m a doctor late at night as I diagnose all my children’s illnesses, but I digress…
An Ileostomy is a surgical procedure that can be done a couple of different ways. The least invasive way is laparoscopically through a few small insicions in the abdomen. It is our hope that this will be how it happens for Zack. The other way is an open abdomen procedure and the recovery can be a little longer.
During the surgery, the surgeon will pull a loop of Zack’s small intestine out through the right side of his abdomen. He will then cut the loop in half, not all the way, and then basically turn it inside out and make a cuff which will be stitched to his skin. This is called a stoma and looks red like the inside of your cheek. One direction of the loop will allow stool from the small intestine to empty into a collection bag. The other direction of the loop will be used to allow medical things to happen in the future. It could be used to flush the large intestine, it could be used for a colonoscopy/manometry in about 18 months to see how things are progressing and probably other things I’m not aware of yet. It is called an ileostomy because they are making the ostomy (hole in the abdomen) using the last part of the small intestine or ileum. When the surgeon uses the large intestine (colon) it is called a colostomy. See how smart you are now?
Zack’s loop ileostomy’s main purpose is to divert his stool away from his large intestine. Because he has such a severe case of constipation, everything is very distended. Because it is so distended it does not have the strength to move stool along properly and needs a rest. Did you know the intestines can shrink back to normal? How cool is that! Our hope is that after a rest of 18 months, Zack’s large intestine will be able to function normally again and the ileostomy can be reversed.
Both the GI doctor and surgeon have cautioned us that Zack’s Sigmoid Colon is severely enlarged and could be past the point of healing. We won’t know that for sure until it has been given time to rest. The Sigmoid Colon is the last part of the large intestine before your rectum and has a bit of an S-shape. If it doesn’t shrink down, it may have to be removed. Not to worry, though, you can have your Sigmoid Colon removed and still have normal bowel function. Who knew?
To help explain all of this to our 6 year old, we found an ostomy doll. Really, I don’t make this stuff up. There is a company called Shadow Buddies that makes dolls for all sorts of medical conditions, pretty cool. Check out this photo:
This is Zack’s Ostomy Buddy. He could care less about this doll. He says dolls are for girls. I think it is cute and will come in handy when we get to the hospital. It came with a wafer and bag to place over the stoma as well. I’ll write about that later. Zack’s doll also has a hospital bracelet, coming home outfit and discharge papers. So cute..maybe the doll is more for me?
While all of this is a bit scary to us, our doctors assure us that ileostomies are easy to perform. The surgery itself should take about an hour. They do it all the time. Of course, we think it is a pretty big deal as it is happening to our baby. While it may be an easy operation for them, they are still cutting our child’s intestines and he will be stooling in a bag. Not so easy for us.
Zack’s GI doctor tells us that Z will be able to all the things he currently does without limitations – once he heals of course. He can go swimming, play ball, run, jump, basically anything he wants to do. Our biggest concerns will be keeping him well hydrated and skin care.
In addition, Zack should feel a LOT better. Can you imagine how you would feel with such a distended belly? He doesn’t know he feels bad, because that is how he always feels. We are excited to get this surgery behind us. We are thankful for the doctors God has provided, because I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful they are….they are probably ready for Zack to be healed as well because we/I ask a lot of questions.
Now you know all about ileostomies. If you have read this far, congratulations. Now go outside and enjoy this beautiful day. Hug your kids and give thanks for their health.