Sometimes I think that the weekends can be more exhausting than the weekdays. Not that weekends aren’t great, they just tend to be the time that I pack in as much activity as possible. The kids are home from school, so if I can get them off of their screens, I can actually spend a little time with them. By the time Sunday evening comes along each week I am ready for bed.
Yesterday was no different, we attended church, celebrated a birthday, made my favorite dinner (Poutine), and then snuggled in for family movie night- Star Wars: A New Hope.
In preparation for the long shift that I am working today I did my meal prep and got everything I would need around in advance. I have gotten in the habit of doing this so that I can have an extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning- sleep is very important to me. The hubby and I crawling into bed just before eleven, lemongrass and lavender diffusing away at my bedside. Typically I wake up 2-3x nightly for a potty break and to empty Whinnie’s bag. I am usually in a twilight sleep, kind of on autopilot as I do this, so I am out of bed for maybe 3 minutes maximum each time. I don’t always remember these late night bathroom trips, but at least I don’t seem to miss the toilet!
Last night, I woke up suddenly at 4:12. I know this because I looked right at the clock. I felt sweaty, but weirdly, I didn’t feel hot. Whinnie was a little “pouchy”, so I thought I would get up and empty. As I pulled my bag out of my jammies, I noted that there was a little odor, and that my hand was damp. I knew what that meant. A leak. At 4:12. One hour and 33 minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off. Great. Super.
Luckily this wasn’t a huge leak, so I opted to empty the bag, do a quick clean, and crawl back into bed without showering or changing my bag. I knew that I was getting up soon, and was going to shower at that point anyways. I also knew that I wasn’t going to put much out thru my ostomy because it had been so long since I had eaten or drank anything. So I chose sleep. I cleaned up, wrapped a washcloth around my bag, wrapped a towel around my body and back to bed I went. And I slept great for that next 1 hour and 33 minutes.
Now, I wouldn’t recommend this as a standard practice, because leaking can cause skin irritation and issues. However, I wasn’t really thinking about my skin at that point.
I have had Whinnie, my 2nd ostomy for 5 years this June. I experience leaks once every other month, maybe less. When I leak, I can usually attribute it to something- overdue for a change, I ate apples which cause pancaking, I drank some pop which made me gassy. Last night, I think I was just sleeping so deeply I didn’t notice the bag filling, and then I rolled on it. At least that’s my guess.
Last night’s leak was super annoying, but I think back to the early months with Whinnie, where I leaked probably 3-4 times a month, and would wake up covered in my own feces. I would have to shower, wake my husband, wipe down our mattress, and change our sheets. There was a period of time, when I even slept on one of those waterproof pads that they use in the hospital. If this is where you are in your post-surgical journey, it won’t always be this way! You will become more comfortable with your ostomy, and learn your own leak triggers too.
It’s easy to fixate on the negative. But then I try to think back to my pre-surgery days, when I was waking up 6-8 times a night, and having so many accidents just because I couldn’t get to the toilet quickly enough. In comparison to those days, this doesn’t seem that bad. I will take the rare annoying little leak at 4:12am any day over that!!
Charlotte Rensberger is a 37 year old permanent ostomate from Michigan. She has been battling Inflammatory Bowel Disease for the past 20+ years. Charlotte and her husband Cliff have been married for the past 16 years, and have two crazy children. Charlotte works as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. In her spare time she enjoys baking, arts, and furniture rehab. She has been with Girls With Guts for the past 2 years, and is the blog coordinator.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to contribute to the blog!