Seeing red in your ostomy bag is a frightening experience.
Spotting blood where it isn’t meant to be is horrifying for anyone (if you’ve not experienced it I hope you never do), but after 14 years of Ulcerative Colitis seeing red is enough to make my world crumble.
It is the tipping point, the moment I have to stop kidding myself that the agonising pain will vanish (even though i know it never will) and the horrible realisation that I will have to drag myself to hospital.
When I say spotting blood it is more like a massacre – not that I want to frighten any of you.
Anyway that’s beside the point. For the past year I’ve lived without red in my stools – well until I eat something like tomato soup, and then I nearly always forget I’ve eaten it and freak out.
Some foods do weird and wonderful things to my stoma output and turn it bizarre colours which would startle any right minded person and have you running to the doctors whispering “why is my poop bright purple? What exotic disease have I got?”
You probably wouldn’t stop to think you might have eaten beetroot – but there again most people don’t examine their poo for weird qualities like people with IBD have drummed in them to do.
Today I forgot I’d eaten tomato soup, hence I had a little heart jumping moment (like when I see a large spider lurking in the bathroom) when I saw the bright red colour of my stoma bag contents.
As a now slightly seasoned ostomate I’ve taken to taking a little moment to think while I’m sat on the loo – I stop and say ‘Rach what have you eaten that might have caused this…’, before I allow myself to properly freak out that my illness is back or has morphed into Crohn’s disease.
It’s a good job I did – the memory of the tomato soup came flooding back and I visibly relaxed.
The first time my output went green I went mental…what the hell, what did it mean, I hadn’t even eaten anything green!
Green is pretty normal for me: I adore spinach even if my stoma does not.
But for most green is a sign that what you are eating simply isn’t being absorbed – it means you’re having too much fibre, or your food is going through you. This happens to me a lot, as I insist on eating the foods my digestive system doesn’t like, such as: rocket, spinach, cucumbers – which do from time to time cause me a lot of pain through blockages.
I remember being totally freaked out though the day my output went bright green – I mean pretty much luminous – a consequence of some very horrible cocktails the night before.
Bad colourings in cocktails have also led to slightly purple output, bright red and a slightly blue tint – always a really horrendous experience when you’re hungover and confused enough without thinking your dying.
In other news I went to the gym, got drenched posting letters and almost got lifted off my feet on the way home – thanks lovely Cardiff weather.