Stomaworks design custom ileostomy and colostomy accessories.
We are now selling our first commercially made item the Riksack. The Riksack has been designed by our team, one of whom had an ileostomy in 2010 and his story is below.
In 2010 I was 55 years old and woke up in a hospital bed with a stoma. This came as no surprise. I had endured proctitis colitis for over 20 years and it had ruled, and to a great extent, ruined my life. An endless round of rushing to toilets with only a few seconds notice and countless occasions when that wasn't quite long enough.( I will spare you the details, just use your imagination!).
The truth is, that for me, having an ileostomy was a step forward. A relief that I was back in control of my life. The other big plus was that I was no longer taking massive doses of steroids either intravenously or in tablet form. In fact from that day I have never had to take a pill of any kind relating to my present condition. i.e. having a stoma.
Like every other first timer I had to learn to adjust and the first few bag emptying and changes I found challenging and to be brutally honest, a bit repulsive. However, as at any other time in your life when you have no choice, you simply get on with it.
My initial routine when changing a bag was to remove it and then shower, clean all around the stoma and then get out of the shower to dry. All fine and dandy you may think but as anyone with a stoma will know they can have an uncontrollable life of their own and start discharging at will. I think this depressed more than anything else that had happened
to me. The discharge would be down my legs, on my feet and all over the floor. What if this happened when staying with friends or on holiday. Sure you clean everything up but it's never a great experience.
I started looking for a solution and went to the internet. I saw people on YouTube using towels and carrier bags to try and ease the problem but I found nothing custom made to address the issue. A few weeks later I had made the first prototype Riksack. At that time it had no name and was made from some old plastic curtain rail, a leather belt and lots of gaffer tape. IT WORKED. Now I could change the bag standing up and if there was any discharge it would all be collected and not over me and the floor. Everything including the used bag, tissues and wipes were all put in the receiving bag, that was removed from the outer container , simply sealed and put in the trash..
I was so confident when using it I would even answer my mobile phone if it rang!
It was then as a keen traveller and outdoors person I realised it had another use. I could use it not only to securely change a bag but use it to empty a bag. It is fantastic when I am backpacking, no more kneeling on wet ground or hanging over a rock. I can simply stand upright, full clothed and perform the deed. A quick clean up with a hand sanitizer and I'm good to go. By using a biodegradable liner bag and tissues I can dig a cat hole in the normal way and bury it.
Even before having an ileostomy I was no great fan of using public toilets. As we all know they are sometimes not the cleanest of places (no need for too much info here I think), but using the Riksack completely eliminates the need to actually use the appliance, all you need is the privacy the cubicle offers. This is even more true on aeroplanes were due to the cramped conditions and size of the actual toilet make emptying the bag an issue.