My first batch of appliance samples came in the mail last week. These were from Convatec. They sent me four each of two different systems. One was a one piece system which I can no longer remember the name of. The other was their two piece Esteem Synergy appliance. I was interested in giving the Synergy a try because it's an adhesive coupling two piece versus the mechanical coupling I am using now. It's way more flexible and has a much lower profile on the body. I somehow mistakenly ordered the flat skin barrier instead of convex (which I normally use). I decided to go ahead and give a try though just to see how it felt on, how easy it was to apply, and if I had any issues with the adhesive.
The skin barrier was really easy to apply. It's a tape collar where my current system is the hard neoprene type stuff all the way to the edges. The backing is in two separate sections. You peel the first off to apply the central "hard" part of the barrier and then peel the second section off to smooth down the tape edges. That was pretty nice. Once I had the wafer on, I really liked how small it was compared to my Hollister one and how it felt (not stiff at all!). I've heard some people have trouble applying the pouch to the "landing zone" on the wafer, but mine went on with no trouble at all. I really, really, really like the velcro closure on this pouch. There are two separate times that you velcro it so it feels really secure. The whole system felt really lightweight and it was basically invisible under my clothes. Once I had it on though, I pretty much knew it would fail in short order. No flaw of the appliance, but it was the convexity thing. My stomach is still pretty soft, so I really need that convexity to press the area around my stoma down and keep the opening inside the pouch where it belongs. Also, there is no way to use an ostomy belt with this system, so I didn't have that for a backup either. I'm curious as to how running will be without an ostomy belt, but this change only lasted about 9 hours and I didn't get to test it out on a run. The leak did answer one question I had about the tape collar. When I applied it, it seemed like the tape part was pretty porous and I was wondering if liquid would come right through it if there was a leak. This did not happen at all, so that was a good bit of information.
Because the one piece I got from Convatec was also flat, I decided not to test it out and put my regular Hollister setup back on. I did call Convatec and request the two piece system in convex and it is on its way to me. I will let you know how it goes once I get a chance to try it out. The extra samples I can't use are going to another ostomy person that needs them, so I'm happy not to be letting them go to waste.
My other grand experiment is diet related. I've kicked around the idea of going vegetarian for awhile now. I was hesitant to go for it with the ostomy because I didn't know if I could handle the additional fiber, etc. without blockages or other trouble. I finally decided to just do it and see how things go. On Tuesday it will be a week and I am happy to say I see no ill effects at this point. I am still keeping raw fruits and veggies to a minimum, but I can handle a decent amount of the cooked veggies that I feel safe with as well as beans, lentils and rice. I feel great, eating like this seems to be fueling my running well, and it's helping me to take off those last couple of pounds I need to shake off before I see Dr. L here in a few weeks. Win, win, win if you ask me. I've drawn a lot of inspiration from Matt Frazier and company over at No Meat Athlete. It was really reassuring to me to see such solid examples of vegetarianism being compatible with endurance sports. I've also found a ton of great recipes through Matt's site that have allowed me to eat real whole foods versus lots of packaged and processed "meat substitutes" which is a very good thing. I would say I'm about 95% right now as I'm still using up a few things that I already have around the house (like some frozen dinners, etc.). As I'm buying new stuff though, I'm doing it with a plan toward vegetarian meals and snacks. It's working out well so far.
Oh, one last fun note. I've now run nine miles with Pedro. Pretty awesome. Not a blip of trouble along the way either. I was a little worried on this last run because I overslept and I didn't get a chance to eat my normal food and wait for that second morning empty that always seems to crop up about 45 minutes after I get up. Everything worked out just fine though. I think once I start running, the diversion of blood flow away from the digestive system slows everything down enough that it's not a problem. I always have an empty, or nearly empty, bag even after running for over 90 minutes. Whatever is making that magic happen, I'll take it. I'm feeling confident now that I will be able to run the entire half marathon without needing to empty. Even if I do, there are port-a-potties and I'll carry some wet wipes and stuff so it will be fine. Would be really nice if I didn't have to worry about it at all though!