Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mabel's 1938 Ostomy (StomaWise)

StomaWise published grandma Mabel’s story … Living with an Ostomy in 1938.                          [June 2012]

Mabel had ostomy surgery in 1938,
and was sent home with no ostomy equipment. 

For 15 years, Mabel lived silently
with the inconveniences of an ostomy
and without ostomy supplies
or anybody to talk to.

Read the StomaWise article on Mabel's 1938 Ostomy

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Colonoscopies for 100,000 Hockey Players

 CARHA Hockey delivered this message to 100,000 hockey players in Canada.
on the CARHA News Highlights, and the CARHA facebook page
Penalties for Not Listening

Hockey player Paul Riome didn’t listen to his body or his doctor.  
Minor Penalty was undetected cancer.  
Major Penalty was a permanent colostomy.  
Riome tells of his experiences, attitude adjustments, and comeback to hockey. 

The story is about overcoming colorectal cancer 
and showing other hockey “tough-guys” the importance of prevention.


Even with daily rectal bleeding for over 2 years,  I refused all tests and examinations.

“You got Cancer ...  Life-expectancy is uncertain” Reminiscent of nasty and unexpected hockey hits, I asked myself  “what the hell was that for?”  Of course there was no answer. But I  vowed I would live & play hockey again. 

The rehab routine was similar to hockey injuries, but the outcome would be drastically different, as the surgery damages could never be restored.  With trepidation, I started Public Skating, surrounded by grandparents teaching pre-school kids to skate.

Exactly four months after surgery, I was back playing hockey.  I was amazed at how many players made a point of acknowledgement, usually with the back-handed male style
‘… Nice you’re back, looking dangerous as ever’
‘… I always hated going into the corner with you, but now I’m really afraid of the sh*t flying’
‘… I thought with your butt sewn shut, that your stride would be shorter’  

After an aggressive altercation around the net, a large and hostile defenseman pummeled me with a verbal tirade of hockey-trash-talk.  I said ‘you can’t really call me that, because I don’t even have one’.  Instantly he went silent, smiled, put his arm around my shoulder, and said in amazement “you’re the one”

Hockey team-mates were curious, so I volunteered to answer any questions they had, and show them anything they wanted to see.  They all related to the red-neck attitude that prevents us from having rectal examinations and colonoscopies, even while knowing that these procedures are effective lifesavers. 

With earlier tests and earlier detection,

I may have avoided the surgery and permanent colostomy.

Several wives (mostly with tears) told me it was my experience that convinced their husband to get a colonoscopy.

As hockey players  might say  … I paid the price, so now I can send the message

Get a Colonoscopy.  It could save your ass.  Maybe your life.

 We, the fortunate warriors and survivors, can save lives by educating others … one person at a time.  

Maybe YOU can help someone – please SHARE THIS with your friends.

CARHA Hockey is a national, not for profit, charitable sport organization who is dedicated to providing resources and benefits to the adult recreational and oldtimers hockey industry in Canada.  CARHA Hockey

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

1938: Mabel’s Ostomy

My Grandma Mabel had ostomy surgery in 1938, and was sent home with no ostomy equipment.  
How did she cope?  How did she live with her ostomy?    I have tried to re-create her experience.
Grandma Mabel, 2 years after ostomy surgery
Living Contently, Without Ostomy equipment

Lets try to imagine 1938,
… and imagine living with an ostomy in 1938.

This was before the internet, before cellphones, before microwaves, before TV, before plastics.  The stock market had crashed in 1929, followed by a decade named the Great Depression. In parallel, there was a decade of drought and crop-failure in the entire Midwest of North America, aptly named the Dirty 30s.  This was before the 2nd World War!  

It was a challenging time to live.
This was also before Flanges and Pouches
and any other Ostomy gear was invented. 

Ostomy patients were sent home after surgery, 
with no collection device.

       No collection device !?!!

How did Mabel live with an ostomy, without ostomy equipment?

Mabel lived on the prairies in Western Canada, where summer temperatures rose to +40 degrees C (+104 F) and winter temperatures dropped to -40 degrees C (-40 F).  The only heat in the house was the stove, which burned coal when they had money, wood when they could scrounge, and buffalo-chips (dried cow manure) when there was nothing else.

There was no cold running water.  Water was pumped from a well – winter and summer.
There was no hot running water.  They heated water in a large pot on the stove.
There was no shower.
There was no bathtub.

There was no bathroom in the house.  There was just an outhouse – a seat perched over a pit, in a small building 50 yards from the house.  This outhouse experience, in winter when it was -40 degrees, was the origination of the expression “so cold it would freeze your ass off!”

With no collection device supplied, available, or even invented yet, Mabel made do with rags and towels [try to imagine her angst].  
Mabel’s husband Walter was a practical and inventive man, and soon devised a tin-can with a belt-strap, to contain the stool.  This was leaky and stinky, but a big improvement over the very messy rags.  
Personal ostomy cleanup was in the outhouse, 
probably with a pail of cold water.  Summer and winter.

The tin-can had to be strapped tightly around her waist to reduce the leakage. (not prevent leakage … just reduce leakage).  The edge of the tin-can bit harshly into Mabel’s skin, and left a nasty red compression ring on her skin.  Walter was a horseman who made his own horse-harnesses, so he built a leather collar to cover the tin-can edging.  This was certainly more comfortable and leaked less.  But it was difficult to clean the leather collar, and the device was still stinky.  

Mabel considered a glass container which would be easier to clean than the tin-can.  But adding a leather collar and attaching a belt would be difficult.  And the risk of glass breakage and serious cuts to her stoma would be a big concern.  The tin-can with leather-collar, strapped around her waist, was Mabel's best-and-only ostomy equipment.

The 4 inch circle around her stoma was constantly covered with stool, and I expect she had many rashes, breakdowns, infections, and damages to her skin.  The salves used for harness-burns on horses would have been Mabel’s only relief from these skin problems. 
There was no real ostomy equipment for Mabel.
There was no ‘support group’ for Mabel. 
Mabel never talked about her ostomy.  My father, who lived at home for the first 6 years of Mabel’s ostomy, was never told about her ostomy, never saw anything that would indicate an ostomy, never saw a bulge on her dress.  While her husband designed and built her ostomy-gear, that would be the last time he participated and the last time they would talk about it. It just wasn’t ever discussed. 
For 15 years, Mabel lived silently
with the inconveniences of an ostomy without ostomy-gear
with no-one to talk to.
Mabel was the sole steward of a 1-acre vegetable garden.  She dug the entire garden with a shovel, planted seeds, and hoed weeds.  In the fall, she dug out the potatoes and carrots, harvested and preserved corn and peas and beans for each cold winter ahead.  For 15 years, from age 52 to age 67, she worked that garden, and she lived with an ostomy.  And she lived without ostomy equipment as we know it today.
How did Mabel keep herself physically clean, mentally content, and spiritually thankful, 
with such crude ostomy equipment, and under such harsh conditions?

My grandma Mabel was one tough lady. 
Mabel was British, Victorian, stoic, and content ... and she never complained.
And she was so thankful that her ostomy gifted her 15 years of good living.

There have been days I have complained about my colostomy.
With the imagination to re-live Mabel’s ostomy experience,
I will not complain again.  Ever.

Mabel’s Timeline
1886       -                    Born in England          128 years ago
1904    Age 18             Married Walter            110 years ago
1912    Age 26             Emigrated to Canada  102 years ago
1938    Age 52             Ostomy Surgery           76 years ago
1953    Age 67             Died                               61 years ago

Mabel's Medical History

I did considerable sleuthing to locate Mabel's medical records.  Not surprisingly, these 76-year-old records have been destroyed.  BUT, there was an index card, with handwritten notes, saying

Mabel was diagnosed with Acute Ulcerative Colitis
and hospitalized from December 18 through to February 13. 

There was no written record of her type of ostomy.  I have so many more questions, but the answers may now be lost in history. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

HockeyGear: StomaGuard

I had traded Rectal Cancer for a Resection and Permanent Colostomy, and 4 months later I was back playing hockey.  I was naturally concerned about herniating, and about stoma-damage by rubbing or impacts.

Hockey is a rough game.  The best hockey players are big, strong, fast, aggressive, and mean.  I only have the ‘fast’, and some players are double my weight.  I have always worn the best protective equipment to avoid injuries.  And that was before I had a colostomy and stoma. 

I first tried playing with just an unprotected pouch. As my stoma was on-line with my hockey pants belt, the rubbing was an obvious problem. I was feeling unsupported and insecure about herniating, and certainly nervous about impacts.  So I quit this experiment after 1 game.
I then tried playing with the Convatec Stoma Cap Cover and a Nu-Hope Ostomy Girdle.   I used this setup for most of 2 years, and it gave me moderate impact protection, and good hernia support.  But the girdle cost some flexibility of movement, and there was slippage of both the Stoma Cap Cover and the girdle, which stressed my flange adhesive.
I wanted superior impact protection, similar hernia support, with better flexibility.  I talked with Bob Zurowski from Stomaplex and got the answer.  

Freedom-Guard's outer shield is strong enough to take hockey impacts, but can be bent to fit the abdominal contour. The belt is comfortable on my skin, and gives good hernia protection without restricting flexibility or mobility.  The U-shaped padding holds the appliance in place, while protecting the stoma.  I wanted extreme protection for hockey, so Bob built the neoprene padding out to 5/8 inch.  I was pleasantly surprised that the Freedom-Guard stays in place, with no shifting or sliding, even with the hockey-belt right on the Freedom-Guard, and the hockey pants moving as I stretch, bend, and rotate.

With the Freedom-Guard, I feel confident the appliance will stay secure. 
I feel supported for hernia protection, and I know I am safe from impacts.

Now the real game-day testimonials. It has been mentioned that I play bigger than my size (‘he’s only 150 pounds, but plays like he’s 190). I think that is intended to be complimentary, but that style is hard on my body.  In 55 years of hockey I made a quick count of 3 concussions requiring hospitalization, 12 broken bones, 3 shoulder separations, and 1 torn knee.  A colostomy hasn’t changed that style. I have taken hits, crashed into the boards, fallen on the ice, blocked shots, and been speared with sticks.  
Sometimes I hurt.  But my stoma has never been hurt. 
It is a real testament to StomaPlex that I can continue to play that style with warranted confidence.

Read Prior posts on

I receive no financial benefit for sharing this experience, testimonial and product review.
You can learn more about the Freedom-Guard at Stomaplex