life with an ostomy. candid, not sugar-coated. empowered, not embarrassed.

Mar. 26, 2006

Sub-zero Trauma

Since the surgery, I haven't been able to sleep for more than six hours straight without getting up to empty the Good Year Blimp. It's gotten to the point where I can practically sleep-walk to the can, and go through all the motions of emptying my bag without much thinking. I've gotten used to it and it's only when I think about it heavily that I feel sorry for myself and decry the ill-effects this nightly disturbance to my REM cycle must be having on my complexion.

Pooping in the middle of the night whilst camping, is not quite so easy.

When I'm camping, it's a whole different routine. The bathroom- or outhouse in most cases- is often a fair walk away, I have to put on my shoes, there's no simple light switch, it's cold, unfamiliar, and basically it's just not a smooth ride.

I went camping with my sister and her fiancee in February. It was camping in the snow, which would not at all have been enticing to me were it not for the hotsprings that were nearby.

Anyway, I came up with a brilliant plan before going to sleep that would avert all the bother and discomfort of having to put my coat and shoes on and trudge up the hill to the outhouse to empty my poo-filled bag when I would inevitably wake up at about 4am, sleep-filled and disoriented.

I had a couple of sturdy grocery bags, and the plan was to simply get up, unzip the tent, poke part of my body outside of it, and empty the contents of my bag into said plastic reservoir, double-lined of course. Then I'd wipe, re-attach the velcro, roll that puppy back up, zip up the tent and climb back into my down-filled cocoon of warmth and sweet dreams. Easy frickin' peezy.


When my bag got to be quite full, I did what I often do in the middle of the night to buy myself some time, or to let myself finish off some amazing dream. I released some gas. And boy, there was no shortage of that given the navy bean soup my sister had boiled up for an appetizer that night.

About an hour or so later, it was time. I began rustling around in my sleeping bag to get myself out, and grab the plastic bags so I could execute the genius plan. But as I was rustling out of my bag, I noticed the rankin' smell coming out of it. I thought, "my god! that gas was potent," assuming that I had simply been marinating in a dutch oven of navy bean farts until I allowed even a peep of air to escape 60 some odd minutes later.

So the plan changed. Believing that my gas was that bad, I figured it would be a great disservice to my sister and her beau if I let the poop out in the vicinity of them sleeping. So on went my shoes, and plastic bags in hand, I headed outside of the tent, in the snow, the falling snow, to empty my bag several steps away from the tent. So I go to grab my bag and what do I feel? Wet fleece pants. And then I reach up to my stoma, half panicked, to confirm - oh my god- that it was naked.

Seconds later, my sister woke up to the tune of me saying "oh fuck! oh fuck! oh fuck!" She asked what was going on, and so I told her I lost my bag somewhere between my sleeping bag and where I was standing now. Seconds after that, the worst-case scenario is confirmed. My loving sister discovered that my bag of poo and it's contents were, for the most part anyway, inside my sleeping bag.


Not only was the poop spread wildly about my sleeping bag, I also found it was all down me, on my shirt, and even on my wool scarf. I was poo-soaked and standing in the snow, frozen. Frozen, yes, because I was cold, but moreso, frozen not knowing quite how to proceed.

About 15-20 minutes later, I had managed to clothe myself in clean garments and was more or less hating myself and wishing I had not come on the trip as I climbed into the tent. My sister has rolled up my sleeping bag and pushed it to the end of the tent. She then told me that I had no choice but to climb into her sleeping bag with her.

Now that is love.

Until the sun came up, we spooned. Very uncomfortably, mind you. I barely slept, and when one of us wanted to shuffle, the other one had to cooperate with every motion or risk suffocation. The fabric of her sleeping bag was stretched tight and there was not enough extra room to even insert something like a sheet of paper into the bag.

She got up with the sun and headed for the hotsprings while I, still feeling miserable, tried to sleep as long as I could. It was embarassing and horrid, but my fellow-campers treated me with nothing but respect and love. After the self-loathing and sense that my entire weekend had been ruined, I managed to have a good time for the rest of the trip and now, with this incredible story, I am that much richer.


Blogger jen said...

All of your commentary is great, but this one is so, so perfect. The only thing worse than emptying your bag when you are 1/2 alseep is discovering that your bag leaked and CHANGING it when you are 1/2 asleep!!!!!

10:06 p.m., March 27, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first time my bag filled up with air, it was amazing. I got up out of bed and this thing was just shooting straight out from my stomach. The air just came out so quickly and the smell was off the charts. Days later when I was walking with a girlfriend, I said look at my erection!

11:27 a.m., October 25, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow you are so brave to post this. G'd Bless you and I hope that you maintain your sense of humor!

2:00 p.m., February 06, 2011


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