As an IBD person I go in for check ups with my gastroenterologist every 6 months. Part of that includes a periodic inside peek at my digestive tract to make sure everything is going well. Originally Gastro and I were hoping for a capsule endoscopy (pillcam) which I have used in the past with success. When insurance denied the request we turned to ileoscopy to meet our goals.

Ileoscopy is a procedure where a thin tube called an endoscope enters through the stoma to view the bowel. Smaller than the diameter of most adult fingers, the endoscope is equipped with light, a camera, video camera, the ability to add air and water and tools to take a sample, if needed.

Thanks to the fact that I’m an ileostomate, scope prep was pretty easy and is the same I would have done for the pillcam. No food the day before, just clear liquid until midnight and nothing until after the scope.

Procedure day I got there early. If someone cancels, sliding into the open place is a perk I don’t want to miss out on.

Sedation – Now this is where my experience may differ from others. I prefer to be scoped unsedated. I like being able to participate in the scoping experience by shifting or moving if needed to get the best view possible. I like the ability to ask questions and get answers in real time from the number one expert in the room. Because I am involved and aware I understand the thought process of samples taken as my gastro is really good at explaining as we go, and we both look forward to follow up from the lab. For me, unsedated is worth any discomfort experienced.
*I have had sedated scopes. I simply prefer not to if at all possible.*

Because I’ve been having scopes and cams for ages now, I figured I’d go over a few pros and cons that might be helpful to know so you can plan for a successful time.

Pro Pillcam It’s really stinking cool. Requires no sedation. Depending on the type used it takes two to four images per second as it travels. All that information is streamed to your gastro office where they can review the pictures and get a result back to you as soon as the following day. (Depending on availability in your gastro office) The least invasive way to have a look at your insides.

Con Pillcam Go in early to swallow pill cam. You then leave to walk around with a device strapped to your stomach looking a little too much like a suspicious character for decent people. (The nurse will gently remind you to stay away from libraries and courthouses to avoid ending up on the evening news.) Follow eating and drinking directions throughout the day as you wait on motility to work its magic. Once the pillcam is out you then drive all the way back to the clinic to turn the crime scene esque equipment back in. It’s an all day waiting game. If you’re driving a distance to get to your GI, this can be a huge detractor. (One of the reasons why I really dislike it.) It exhausts an entire day. Things I do to help myself out: Walk around. Exhaustively. Get those bowels moving to pass the pill camera along as rapidly as possible. In my experience, pillcam day is not for taking in a movie, it’s a day for speed walking.

*You’ll want to discuss with your doc any possibility of narrowing or obstruction that could make passing the pill difficult.*

Pro Scope If you recover quickly from sedation, you could leave with an understanding of how things went. If you are a non sedation person, you have on the spot knowledge and can drive yourself to the next task of your day without delay. In and out then on your way. In addition, a scope allows you to take samples and manipulate tissue at the time of viewing. A bonus if you’re like me and don’t want to make a separate appointment for scoping on another day for results you want right away. I’m eager like that.

Con Scope
If you prefer sedation:
You will need to arrange for a driver to wait for you and take you home.
Depending on how quickly you recover, you may need someone to stay with you for a bit after going home.
Wait for discussion on findings with GI until follow up appointment or phone call meeting.
Gas. Air is used to make it easier to see. Once you’re done that gas makes its way out. This can be uncomfortable for some.

If you prefer non sedation:
Squeamishness about your body functions, bowels and the process it takes to look at them is not helpful for success. You must be okay with the idea and participate in the process of someone sticking a tube in your bum or stoma and looking around.
Gas. See above.

Bowel prep required. Ileostomates generally have a bit easier time than those with more parts. Follow the prep your doc prescribes, no food and lots of fluids until it’s time for nothing orally and you’re hopefully clear and ready to go. No cheating. Your doc can see if there’s residue and you’ll have to re test.

At the end of the day the scope went well. When you think about it, it really wasn’t a big deal at all. I am grateful to have a doctor on my team that shares the mindset of prevention first. Because Crohn’s Disease is a shifty little devil, you can have active inflammation even when you’re otherwise feeling fine. We approach Crohn’s Disease with the mindset of stamping out a campfire versus trying to save a forest engulfed in flames; prevention over recovery. A very important distinction that uses tools like regular check ups, pill cams, scopes and lab work to endeavor to keep the IBD flame extinguished and me feeling as healthy as possible.

I made a little video to give you an idea of how it went. Watch it if you like.


Remember Who You Are

Ostomy Beautiful
Please remember who you are:
You are lovely just the way you are. You have earned the right to be okay in your own skin. You have earned the right not to hide. So Don’t. Your life and your story are valuable.


Ostomy Pants!

How I got all crafty and refashioned the waistband of my pants to fit better without rubbing or cutting into my stoma. Yay! I can wear my jeans.  Check out this really cool way to make Ostomy Pants!  (Or fix any waist band really)

After all, you are perfect just the way you are.  Make your clothes fit you.  Not the other way around.

Stoma Bruise

Living in a southern climate, in a home with zero air conditioning, it gets pretty darned HOT in our little rental house. So my husband and I got all brilliant and made our large family room into the ‘cool room’. Thank you to Costco, we were able to find just the right portable air cooler/de humidifier for a room that size. To maintain the refreshingly chilled atmosphere, we have draperies hung in the entry ways. Since then we have been enjoying the summer feeling comfortable and quite a bit clever about the whole thing.

Until yesterday.

Rushing around in preparation for kiddo swim class I was busily working on getting last minute water bottles filled and towels collected when I ran into this:

The Culprit

This banister lives right on the other side of the cool room drapes. Turns out that it’s exactly the height of my stoma. Like it was planned that way, but not really. At any rate, I collided into this at full tilt.

Well Crap!  Not what I planned on doing today.
Well Crap!  NOT what I planned on doing today.

And straight to the floor cupping myself while I did some deep breathing. Then off to the bathroom to check that I hadn’t torn my stoma or caused active, hospital type bleeding.

Day two and already looking better.
Day two and already looking better.

In my self examination I noted: No laceration, yes my stoma was still attached to my abdomen, yes my stoma was bleeding from the abrasion. The bottom half was strikingly bruised, scraped raw, tight, lopsided and srunk in on itself.

Yikes was he mad!

I felt like I had been kicked in the guts, which was essentially the case. But more of an accidental self banistering of sorts. After applying pressure I got the bleeding to stop and was grateful it wasn’t as bad as it first looked.

I have run into my stoma before, but this time I did quite the number on myself. Here I am a day later and my stoma is still mad but healing rapidly.  The bruising yesterday was much darker.  The abrasions began to look better right away.  I’m thinking because of blood supply, guts heal from scuffs and run ins better than knees?  But I’m no expert on stoma injuries and don’t plan to be.  My little guy is still mis shapen and I’ll call it ‘dented’ in the area where it was hit hardest which didn’t show up very well in the picture.  But even that looks to be improving as well.  I’m guessing this will take the same time to heal as a regular bruise.

And here’s the deal. If I know I’m going to be moving again, or helping someone else move, stacking wood, volunteering for an activity where there’s a good chance I’m going to get knocked in the can, or other wildly fun activity, I happily wear a stoma guard. Or if I had a job where I would be repeatedly irritating my stoma with tasks I performed daily, I would wear one. I own a stoma guard that I like. It’s small and stays put when I move. So that’s not a problem at all.  But when I’m just going about my regular ol’ life, I’m not going to wear a guard. Very few people brace themselves and stay constantly on guard for every day bodily injury/catastrophe. And I’m not one of them. It’s just not how I function.

Try to hurt me now.  I dare ya!
Try to hurt me now. I dare ya!

And so I do the next best thing.

No banisters harmed in this water noodling. I like that it’s easy to remove as well. And no, it’s not exactly pretty. But it is better than a hospital stay if I’m not so lucky next time.

Turns out The Husband runs into this banister frequently and even injured his foot with swelling and bruised results. We both will benefit from this fix.

I figure if life kicks you in the can sometimes, or you’re an occasionally magnificent klutz, like moi, just add a few creative adjustments to make life less painful.