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In mine I've got poo.

Row of Handbags

Row of Handbags

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Pelican Select Convex Drainable Pouch–Product Review

After attending the recent stoma open day, I received a sample pack from Pelican, of three of these bags. Their representative phoned me the other day to see how I got on with them, but at that stage I hadn’t yet tried them, but promised to do so and let them know how I got on with them.

01 Bag Front

02 Bag Back

I told her that I was already using the Coloplast SenSura Convex Light bags and once they bring out the SenSura Mio in the convex, that will be my bag of choice, and I felt I should tell her that up front. She said that was fine, and they appreciate any reviews of their products because such feedback always helps with improvements in the future.

I put on this bag on Thursday so I have now been wearing it for two days, and I must say I am generally very impressed.

The convex flange on this bag is very soft indeed, and the backing sheet on it protecting the sticky surface is thin and flexible, with good measuring guides for cutting the hole to size. It is the easiest bag I have ever cut – really soft and effortless.

03 Cutting Guide

The sticky surface, called “Skin Protector,” is quite thick compared with other bags I have tried, and it has a foam back, which is extremely flexible. What impresses me most, apart from ease of application and comfort during wear, is that I have experienced no itching at all. On day 2, wearing the Colopolast bags, I do experience some itching under the glue; it’s not a major problem and isn’t caused by any reaction, and there isn’t any evidence of redness or the skin breaking down when I change the bag, but it is an indication that I will soon need to change the bag. With the Pelican bag, however, it has remained very comfortable and so far there is no itching at all.

The bag itself has an “anatomical” asymmetrical shape which is comfortable to wear, being curved on the outer edge so that it sweeps away free of one’s leg. The capacity of the bag is, I think, somewhat larger than the Coloplast bag. The cover is beautiful – it has firm feel to it which I knew would be unlikely to go fluffy with contact with one’s clothing after a day or two, as I have experienced with one or two sample bags I’ve tried, and this has proved to be the case. I am also very impressed with its opacity. The Coloplast bag, while it does have a flesh-coloured opaque cover on it (which again does not go fluffy), you can see the stoma output through it because it is rather thin, but with the Pelican bag, the cover is thicker, and nothing is visible.

It has a split in the middle, underneath which is the clear bag, and you can view the whole of the bag through this, and not just a “port hole” around the stoma, as with another bag I tried. It is very easy to see exactly where to place the bag over the stoma. (On this photo, you can see the thickness of the flange.)

04 Viewing Window

The opening on the tail more closely resembles the Coloplast bag than any other I have tried, with the triple fold-up, and the winged tabs which are pressed down over the folded tail and held in place with Velcro.

05 Tail

I still like the Coloplast one the best, with its two rigid strips – the one on the underside of the bag is located below the one on the top, which means that when you empty it, there is a “step” that the output goes onto before draining away, and I find this easier to wipe with some folded toilet paper wrapped around the end of the bag, without getting any output on my hands. The Coloplast bag tail opens a lot more easily too, because the rigid strips are slightly stiffer, and you just press the sides together and it pops open. With the Pelican bag, the rigid strips are one directly above the other, and you squeeze the sides together to make a “U” shape:

06 U-Shape

and then pull on the little tab to open the upper layer towards you, which is a two-step process, and I find it doesn’t always work very well, especially when it is wet, because it tends to stick shut.

07 Tab

I couldn’t show a full demo of opening the bag because it required two hands and I needed one to hold the camera!

08 Tail Open

There is a very effective “fold up” system after you have closed the tail. As with the Coloplast bag, there is a Velcro dot under the opaque cover.

09 Velcro Dot

Once you have closed the tail, you fold it up, and stick the exposed Velcro strip between the two tabs, to the Velcro dot, and this holds the tail in place under the cover.

10 Tail Attached to Velcro Dot

It folds up higher under the cover than on the Coloplast bag.

11 Tail Tucked Up

This is a good thing, because with the weight of the output, I do find that the Coloplast bag tends to sag at the bottom, and while it is still attached to the Velcro dot, it falls down below the cover and flops outwards.

The Velcro dot on the Pelican bag is also slightly larger, and has much tougher Velcro hooks on it, so is more effective. However, yesterday (1st full day of use) I noticed that the dot had come unstuck from its adhesive and was stuck on the tail, leaving the adhesive behind under the cover, and the cover has stuck firmly to it and is quite immovable, rendering the fold-up system useless; I don’t know if this is a one-off, and that it won’t happen with another bag, which I will have to try and see. Ed. 16th June after trying another bag: It is clear that body warmth softens the adhesive on the Velcro dot, which makes the Velcro dot slide off, exposing the sticky surface on the inside of the cover, which then adheres firmly onto the clear plastic lining of the bag. The two cannot be pulled apart without risking tearing a hole in the plastic bag. This renders the tucking up of the tail impossible because the cover remains stuck to the bag in the centre. This is a design fault which needs to be rectified – they need a different adhesive for the Velcro dot.

I am not convinced that the filter on the Pelican bag works very well; it is obviously letting some gas out (and I do produce quite a lot of gas!) because I am getting some smell from the bag. Fortunately it is merely the smell of the excellent OstoMart mint deodorising drops sample that I got at the open day – but I have never smelt anything from any of the other bags I have used. The gas is not dispersing fully, either; I still have to burp this bag to get rid of it. Ed. 16th June: To prevent any smell getting out, I have now covered the filter with one of the circular stickers they provided with the samples.

12 Filter

To be fair, I’ve never been convinced by filters on any of the bags I’ve tried; there is no evidence that any gas has escaped at all – odour or otherwise!

In summary, I must say I am very impressed indeed with this bag; the only drawbacks are the filter and the closure, and the failure of the system to tuck the tail under the cover, but these are minor gripes. The quality of the bag is excellent and once it’s on, you can forget it. I would definitely seriously consider choosing this bag above the Coloplast, but I am anxious to try the new Coloplast convex SenSura Mio as soon as it becomes available, and if it works as well as I am expecting, that will be my No. 1 bag of choice.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Ostomy Open Day

Until a few months ago, I had no idea that such a thing as an ostomy open day could even exist! I picked up a flier at the hospital advertising this event, which took place at Newton Abbot Racecourse – strange venue, I thought, not realising that they have a conference centre there.

It was a very interesting and exciting event. I was delighted to see all the stoma nurses there from Torbay Hospital, and was pleased to be able to speak to the nurse I saw the other day, to clarify a point I forgot to ask her. She said they had organised the event, and all the companies represented there had dealings with the hospital, and I could choose whatever samples I liked, and give them a try.

Coffee was served, and there was someone doing manicures, and plenty of people attended, so it was a lively event. It was particularly nice to be able to see a lot of the products “in the flesh” that I had only seen before online, and to talk to the various representatives and discuss different options.

We came home laden with bags of samples and fun freebies, and I spent quite a long time sorting through them and photographing them. Eventually I shall be reviewing and comparing the various products and putting these on my Products Page (see tab above), once I have had a chance to try them all, but for now I will show photographs of groups of items from the various companies.

CD Medical

CD Medical Samples

PeelEasy adhesive remover spray, which has a revolutionary propellant system with the liquid in a bag inside the tin, and no propellant gases, which means the whole tin can be filled with the liquid. Also, it will spray whatever way up the tin is held. Also, PeelEasy adhesive remover wipes. I find that using the spray to remove the stoma bag usually leaves a little adhesive residue on the skin, and spraying onto a tissue to remove this is not as effective as using a wipe.

Emollin emolient spray for dry or irritated skin – not for use in the peristomal area, but for elsewhere on the body; CliniFilm barrier spray and wipes.

Colostomy Association

Colostomy Association Magazines

A couple of issues of this organisation’s magazine. Glancing at these (I haven’t had a chance to read them yet) it looks as if many of the articles will apply to ileostomates too.

Convatec Mouldable Pouches

Convatec Mouldable Leaflet and Post-It Notes

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to speak to the representative about this product. Leaflet and free post-it notes.

IA (Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Support Group)

IA Freebies and Leaflets

They had a delightful colouring book for children, to help them through what must be a huge trauma for kids, having an ostomy. The book would also help a child deal with a parent or sibling undergoing surgery and learning to manage a bag.

IA Journal, and an invitation to an upcoming local meeting. Nice freebies: pen, lens cleaning cloth, notebook, post-it notes. Nice colour scheme for their product line!


Independence Samples

Leaflets, and a nice sample pack which included their adhesive remover spray that had a clever top which you twist to open, so you don’t have to fiddle around with lids; lemon and lime fragranced odour eliminator spray which neutralises odours rather than masking them when you spray into the air; AcuBond strips (banana flanges); absorbent strips – when inserted into the bag, they convert liquid output into a gel; barrier wipes and adhesive remover wipes; leaflet about SilBond silicone glue. They also gave me a nice pen.

Miscellaneous Items

Misc Items

Gellymate absorption tablets from Peak Medical (another output thickening agent); Crohn’s and Colitis UK information and local event flier; Morform gelling agent from CliniMed (another output thickening agent); Charter Delivery Service leaflet from Coloplast and another nice pen; SecuriCare “Can’t Wait” card to use in a queue for the loo.

Opus Healthcare

Opus Healthcare Air Fresheners and Adhesive Remover Spray

Three different NaturCare odour eliminator sprays in Lightly Perfumed (a very pleasant scent reminiscent of 4711 eau de Cologne), Unscented, and Zest Vibrant Citrus fragrances; LiftPlus Citrus adhesive remover spray.

Opus Healthcare Samples

Two small “pouch bridges” – little cubes of foam rubber with a self adhesive surface on one side – these are placed inside the bag to keep it open and allow the output to flow throughout the bag, to prevent pancaking. LiftPlus Citrus adhesive remover wipes; LaVera barrier cream with the most gorgeous lavender and aloe vera fragrance; SkinSafe barrier wipes; NaturCare IPD (In-Pouch Deodorant); DeoGel deodorising lubricating gel to help output flow throughout the bag, to prevent pancaking.


Ostomart Samples

A large selection of samples: OstoPeel adhesive remover spray (blackcurrent fragrance); a sample box containing Astoa products (barrier cream, adhesive flange extenders large and small, mouldable adhesive ring seals thin and standard, and a leaflet); brochures and leaflets; OstoSorb odour neutralising absorbent gel; OstoFix security tape, OstoFix 80 and 40 security frames (I have had these supplied by the hospital and didn’t like their over-stickiness and the fact that they made my skin itch because they didn’t breathe); OstoClear adhesive remover wipes; OstoZyme odour-neutralising lubricating gel; OstoPeel adhesive remover wipes in raspberry, mint and apple fragrance; OstoGuard barrier cream; OstoGuard barrier wipe with lavender fragrance; OstoClenz no-rinse skin cleansing gel (for hands); another “Can’t Wait” card.


Pelican Samples

It only occurred to me the other day the significance of the name – pelicans have pouches! Duh. They don’t keep poo in them, though. Leaflet regarding their delivery service; Release adhesive remover spray – I had some of this from the hospital when I first started, and it has a lovely fragrance of mint, with added Vitamin E for skin health; Release wipes; peg to keep one’s clothes out of the way; supermarket trolley token on a keyring.

I spent some time on the Salts MediLink stand, and they had several bags on display. This one particularly caught my eye; my friend Shaz has a great roll-up bag and I really wanted one of these, and this is the closest I’d seen to that. The gentleman on the stand gave it to me! Here is the bag rolled up and clipped shut.

Salts MediLink Bag Closed

Opened up, it reveals a number of zipped pockets, and a loop at one end, from which you can hang the unrolled bag to give easy access to all your supplies.

Salts MediLink Bag Open

Here it is after I transferred all my travel stuff from my original bag:

Salts MediLink Bag Filled

This bag is going to be a lot more practical than the one I got from the hospital, nice as that one is. It is a fraction of the size and still holds all my stuff – with the exception of my Vanish laundry stain remover pot which I carry around in case I need to empty my bag in an emergency away from a loo, for example in the car – I have decided to keep that original bag in the car with that pot in it, along with my change of clothes. My hubby agrees this is a good idea, and it’s going to make a lot more room in the sling underneath my wheelchair which is now always full to bursting with all this gear!!

Salts MediLink Freebies

They gave me lots of nice freebies and leaflets about their MediLink supply service: anti-bacterial hand-cleansing gel – my hubby bought me some of this from the pharmacy recently and it has an awful sweet fragrance that I can’t abide! This one, however, is unperfumed (apart from an alcohol smell as you apply it, which disappears once it is dry), and it closely resembles the stuff in the wall pumps in the hospital. This is definitely my go-to stuff! Also another nice pen, a nail file, another lens cleaning cloth and a cool drinking water pouch! They also arranged to send me a decent pair of scissors with curved-up blades for cutting my bags until I get them sent ready-cut. This stand had some lovely stuff, and very friendly staff. They have a local office in Exeter. I have to admit they would be a nice supply company to deal with.


StomaWise Freebies

StomaWise is a UK-based charity which supports stoma awareness and provides OstoBears for children undergoing stoma surgery – each bear has a paediatric bag attached with Velcro over a lifelike little red stoma! The bag can be removed and replaced, for teaching purposes. They come dressed in pyjamas, like the children when they are in hospital, and being 16-inch bears, they are too large for Bear Factory or Build-a-Bear clothes (these bears are 14-inch bears) but StomaWise has an arrangement with Build Your Bear’s Wardrobe which makes clothes to fit these larger bears, and the children can get a 10% discount on the clothes when they register their OstoBear. I think OstoBears are the cutest idea, and I am sure they help a lot of children get through what is a traumatic enough experience for an adult.

Until recently, StomaWise had a forum on their very comprehensive information website, but this forum had to be closed because it was inundated with spam posts and they didn’t have enough volunteers to moderate the forum 24 hours a day. What a shame.

They also do pouch covers in a variety of designs. I made a donation into their tin and was given an ostomy awareness wrist band and another nice pen!


Suportx Leaflets

I picked up some leaflets from this stand; they produce beautiful support underwear for ostomates, with a pocket built in to support one’s bag. The nurse has prescribed a wrap and two pairs of pants for me, and it will be interesting to see whether they come from this company. The quality seemed excellent.

Torbay Hospital

Torbay Hospital Leaflets

Finally, we picked up some leaflets from the Torbay Hospital stand. My hubby picked some up in my absence earlier, not realising I had these already – also I no longer require the low fibre/low residue diet one because I was only on this for a relatively short time post-op.

There were quite a few more stands from which I didn’t pick up any samples, freebies or info – these were mostly of limited interest to me.

At the end they called the raffle, and my hubby won two items! (He always wins…) He allowed me first choice, and I couldn’t resist this wonderful Moroccan Oil hair pack:

Moroccan Argan Oil Pack

This stuff is frightfully expensive, smells divine, and works wonders on one’s hair! With his second winning ticket he chose a meal for two in a nice eatery – not sure when we’ll go there!

Good News on the Coloplast SenSura Mio Range!

I was thrilled to be able to speak to the rep on the Coloplast stand when she returned from lunch. I told her how much I liked their bags – my original bag in hospital was a SenSura. I am currently using Coloplast SenSura soft convex bags, and was very sorry to have to give up using their new SenSura Mio bag because my body was changing shape and I was getting leaks and required a convex flange; unfortunately the convex bag is only available in their original SenSura range, which is nice enough, but lacks the beautiful new cover of the Mio, and the slim, soft feel of that gorgeous bag. I wanted to ask if they were intending to bring the Mio out in the convex, and the lady assured me that they were – the company will be getting the first ones in the next two weeks, and they anticipate them being on the drug tariff (i.e. available on prescription) in the autumn. I am super-excited about this! I told the stoma nurse and she was pleased, and said I’d certainly be able to have these. The Coloplast rep said that until they were available on prescription she would be able to supply them to me free of charge, since this is a bag I definitely want, and they do not believe in depriving their customers of a bag if it is available but not yet on the tariff. This is great news! I shall be sharing it with my Camp Crappy friends because there has been some discussion recently about this – loads of people seem to want these bags, and not surprisingly – they are gorgeous.

It was a very, very good day. I never would have thought I’d get excited about such things but these days it certainly floats my boat! I am glad I went in knowing quite a bit about the different products, thanks to several months on the Inspire Ostomy Care forum (Camp Crappy – see links above) and from my own personal experience. While we were there we met some very nice and interesting people, both reps and visitors alike; I met one lady about to undergo surgery for a colostomy and I was able to tell her about Camp Crappy, and not to be afraid – she wouldn’t be alone, and there is a lot of help, advice and friendship (not to mention fun) on there, and I gave her this blog address.

One of the reps (unfortunately I can’t remember which company she represented) was intrigued by my wheelchair decorations and we got chatting about my blogs, and she expressed great interest in the Gutless Bag Lady. She said they do road shows, and if they were doing one locally, would I be interested in taking part? I said I’d be delighted. She said it was very much about stoma awareness, and she said her supervisor would be very interested in my blog – every now and again they feature someone’s story on their website/Facebook page. Great to spread the word!

Several of the representatives whose companies also run supply services confirmed that it is up to the patient to choose which company they go with, and they do not have to be tied to any one company. This is what I had been led to believe. Obviously they would all like one to go with their company but ultimately it is up to us, the patients, to go where it suits us best. The Salts MediLink rep said that they actually support and sponsor two of the stoma nurses at the hospital, and the nurses should not be dictating to patients where they must go – the thinking is that if you choose the storage bag you like, you have to go with the company that supplied that bag. I shall continue with the company “assigned” to me by the hospital for a while, but I do not feel obliged to stay with them if I feel I would like the freedom to choose elsewhere. I know one person who has tried several different companies and given them all a decent amount of business before finally settling with the one of his choice. Everyone I have spoken to about this has said that they have never heard of stoma nurses limiting their patients to only one company. The stoma nurse said to me today that all the companies represented at the open day were ones that the hospital had dealings with, and I was free to choose samples and products from any one of them – and surely this extends to using their delivery services as well. It’s no skin off the hospital’s nose, anyhow; all the companies supply all the products that are listed on the tariff so it really shouldn’t matter.

I am so glad I was well enough to go today. The past couple of days I have been feeling a lot better as the side effects from my first chemo treatment begin to diminish, and I want to take advantage of these “good” days.

Stoma Clinic Appointment

On Thursday 28th May I had my final regular appointment at the stoma clinic – up until now I have been attending fortnightly, and then this last appointment was three weeks on from the previous one. In the early days I was having to ask for emergency appointments in between, because of problems, but now that things have finally settled down and I am using the right bag to suit me, I do not have to attend again for the next three months. I am very pleased to have reached this stage at last, after a lot of teething problems (which I think everybody goes through in the early stages), because it’s good to have them behind me as I start my chemo. The chemo increases the stoma output and makes it a lot more liquid too, and I wouldn’t want to be dealing with this if I was still experiencing leaks and finding stoma management difficult.

At this appointment, the nurse discussed setting up my prescription for me. She told me the supply company would phone me in the next few days, and that she would send my prescription to my GP. After this, when I am beginning to run low on anything, I just have to contact the supply company direct and let them know what I need, and they will get the prescription from my GP, and in due course my parcel will arrive. Easy peasy.

She told me that in order to save the NHS money, my choices may be fairly limited. However, I know many people who are able to get both adhesive remover spray and wipes, and not just a choice of one, so it may be possible to ask for it and see what my GP will allow. If they say I can’t have certain things, so be it.

She has also ordered a couple of pairs of pants for me, and a wrap – I should be able to get more of these in due course – to hold the bag in place more securely and to stop bulged showing as the bag fills. I have found that it flops about a bit in bed, and a wrap will hold it in place. These will be sent from a different company so won’t arrive with my first parcel of supplies.

The nurse put a fresh bag on for me, and said that I had cut the hole too small – if there is no room for movement, one can develop granulomas which can bleed a lot and be a nuisance. However, as she cut it and applied it, the hole looked a lot bigger than what I had cut and I was pretty sure it was too big. She said she would send the template to the company and they would pre-cut my bags for me.

Over the next few hours, my worst fears were realised, and I could feel the itching and pain beginning again, and I knew the hole was too large. I left the bag in place until the following day and when I changed it, I was glad I’d caught it in time – the skin was beginning to redden, but it was not yet broken. I cut a fresh bag to the smaller size, and phoned the nurse to tell her what had happened. I asked that she phone the suppliers and ask them to send my first batch uncut, and I would forward my template to them in due course, and she was absolutely fine with this.

It was a very satisfactory appointment.

Yesterday the company phoned me and we discussed this, and other matters.