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Blockages with a Stoma! What is a partial blockage like? How does it clear & how to avoid!

As I was starting to heal and deal with my new body post Ileostomy surgery I decided I was up to a day shopping with a friend to furnish my new home!

We went to a large home ware warehouse about an hour from my home, I remember I soon started feeling unwell but put it down to post-operative tenderness and possibly doing to much too soon, I carried on regardless.

We went for a buffet lunch, but I started to feel queasy and ‘odd’, I didn’t eat much and only ‘safe’ foods such as chicken and rice. I had to go to the loo in case I was sick and checked my bag, only to discover I had a leak from around my bag seal, my first one! My output was different it was clear and watery. I added an extra seal to my setup and we carried on with our trip.

I was getting waves of dull pain in my side which quickly developed into feeling very nauseated and more acute stabbing pains in my side flank area. My bag was filling up constantly and now was starting to leak from the closure at the bottom of the bag, it leaked again and was now leaking onto my trousers, just water. The pain was escalating and so we left to go home, it was getting worse and every speed bump felt huge!

When I got home, tearful and scared I cleaned myself up, changed my bag and rested. By now the pain was coming more often in waves that took my breath away and caused me to double over. My new bag seal didn’t take as the output was so watery it kept seeping out. I had to call Stuart to come home as my output was going crazy and the pain was intensifying.

Cramps and spasms came in waves, they hit me like contractions and each time got worse and lasted longer and hurt more and more.

I called my specialist nurse from the hospital ward for advice and she said to go straight to my GP, I couldn’t move by now as was in agony, I felt actually sick so called them and was told to call the emergency services. I was scared and thought I may have ruptured something inside or worse… My output was clear water and nothing of any substance was passing, my bags wouldn’t stick, it was leaking all over, I felt dreadful.

I called my GP was told to call 999. They were great and said they would dispatch an ambulance immediately, however after an hour and several calls later no one had arrived, and I honestly thought I was going to pass out from the pain, with each wave I screamed, I was so tense and crying by now, all of which I am sure made me worse at the time.

The ambulance couldn’t find my house and so finally Stuart had to go out and find it!

When the ambulance arrived, they put me onto gas and air and gave me something for nausea and oxycodone for the pain, they needed me to go to A&E as they suspected I had a bowel blockage.

It was a slow, careful hours ride and when we reached A&E I was pushed in on a trolley, it seemed to take forever. I was admitted to the urgent care centre and then, left on a trolley to throw up in a paper bowl for the next few hours!

Stuart had to try to calm me down and get help whilst emptying my sick bowl that was now being well used, as well as manage my water intake. He did an amazing job that day, more so than the staff on the ward that, due to overcrowding, took over 5 hours to get me to a cubicle.

By now I had managed to fight to get a hydration drip and further pain meds as well as the gas and air reinstated as it helped me relax and stay calm, then I was finally seen by the on-call Dr and a CT scan was arranged as well as bloods and samples taken for testing.

After many hours I was finally in a cubicle and had an amazing caring nurse looking after me, he took regular observations and arranged for the on call surgeon to see me.

The CT scan and X-Ray was inconclusive but ruled out anything sinister happening or the need for any surgical intervention. It was decided I had had what was referred to as a ‘partial blockage', this meant only liquid could pass at one point in my small bowel that was being partially blocked by food or possible inflammation. 12 hours later and the pain was easing, the rest, care, pain relief and reassurance was easing the pain and I think that by relaxing, the blockage was beginning to clear unaided.

I remained in hospital until well into the night at which point the pained eased enough that I was cleared to go home and rest!

It took a good 4-5 days before I felt my bowel was working properly and my output returned to its normal ‘mush’ state. My abdomen was sore and tender, and it left me scared to eat many things for quite some time.

Since this incident I have only suffered one partial blockage and it was 3 years later when I had my JPouch, it was a very different experience and I will write about it soon.

I did learn that I must CHEW CHEW CHEW! I introduce new foods slowly, if they cause discomfort it could be due to not being chewed enough or being too hard for the small bowel to break it down (such as skins, nuts etc) or it could be due to scar tissue or something partially blocking the bowel, as long as it isn’t painful, just uncomfortable, wait and try it again another day, but take it slow!

It can take at least a year for the small bowel to heal after extensive surgery and time really is the best healer! The small intestine has been moved and pulled into areas its not used to and scar tissue can form at any time!

I have heard from others that coca cola is fantastic at shifting a small partial blockage! I haven’t tried it but know some swear by it! The main thing is to remain hydrated and seek medical help if you are worried or getting worse as I did.

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