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

May 17, 2007

A string of questions from someone who stumbled along...

Qs: How about your diet? Any foods you had to omit completely? But, my main question would be: how does it work with hydration - I mean, how do you compensate all the water your body would absorb back from the poo wasn´t for your ostomy? Just how much do you have to drink?Thank you.

As: I loved eating right after my surgery, SOOO much. I gained 30 pounds that summer, after getting uncomfortably skinny in the midst of the surgery-slash-hospital debacle. I was eating everything... everything! drinking too! ...booze! and although it was a lot to get use to the mechanics of the bag changes and taking care of my peristomal skin, there was no pain after eating, and so eating was a new and glorious experience.

It still is. Although, some of the novelty wore off, and something happened a few years ago that made me reassess my diet. I started to feel sick again. It wasn't terribly sick, but just bits of pain here and there and I knew it was related to Crohn's. It upset me BIG TIME, because it was my first realization that I could get sick again, and I knew what that meant. No more glorious eating; and in exchange: pain, fatigue, diarrhea and all the other shit that comes along with Crohn's Disease.

So! Motivated I was to make change in my life for my long-term health. It had never occurred to me how worth it was to take care of myself when I was sick as a teenager. I didn't realize what was at stake. This time around, I obviously did.

I went to see a nutritionist, and she recommended a long list of foods to concentrate on - including lentils, rice, quinoa, nuts, leafy greens, soy, certain fruits and veggies, yoghurt, seeds, millet, fish, certain oils - the kinds of food that aren't readily availalbe at fast food chains and in the freezer aisle.

Then she recommended I eliminate wheat, red meat, and all dairy products except yoghurt. It wasn't easy, but I was determined to keep up a healthy diet to see what the effect would be. ta da! My pain stopped, I started getting more energy, and I started feeling better about myself. Granted, there were other things in my life at the time that were evolving for the better, so I think all the factors worked together.

I slowly reintroduced dairy and red meat, but now only eay them in small quantities.

I've never been able to reintroduce wheat because each time I've tried it's given me a bad headache the next day - the kind of headache that painkillers do nothing for.

As for hydration, the first few days after having the surgery, my output was quite watery. But as I was told by my nurses, the output would get thicker as my small intestine took over the work the colon was not doing. I guess whatever hydration regulators we have in our body realized I wasn't absorbing enough water from my digestive tract, so my small intestines started doing double-duty.

I still drink probably a little more fluid than the average person, but it's not like I'm panting if I don't get a drink.

Normally my poo ranges in consistency from cream-soup-like to thick-enough-to-make-mud-pies-with. not that I do.

Occassionally I'll have diarrhea, and that's no fun because I have to empty my bag every 30 minutes or hour or so and it is thinner in consistency than water. I don't know if that's possible, but that's what it feels like. And it takes such a toll on me that I'm usually completely wiped the next day and have sometimes had to go to the hospital to get a bag of saline dripped into my veins. That hasn't happened since this past fall, when I was really stressed with school and not taking super care of myself. I went on a 6 week course of some kind of steroids... it's embarrassing I forget which ones... and the problems I was having cleared up.

I hope all that information answers your questions. I've never really measured how much liquid I drink, but I'm gonna venture I probably should drink more.

I think I'll go make some tea.