Wednesday, February 13, 2013

#Coloplast #Brava Elastic Barrier Strip product review

Let me begin by saying that I did not receive monetary or any other type of compensation for my review of this product. I was provided a sample of the Coloplast Brava elastic barrier strip because I use several of their other products. I was not asked to give an opinion on the product - but I love it so much I wanted to!

I have been having issues with wear time from my appliance - not because my choice of appliance is poor or the product is faulty - but because of the current state of my abdomen. After 4 abdominal surgeries in quick succession, my skin wasn't exactly left in great shape. It wasn't strong enough to hold staples after the fourth surgery and I had to be left open and allowed to heal from the inside out using wet/dry dressing and montgomery straps to hold things tight. A picture to give you an idea of what that looks like:

It is essentially like lacing up your shoes. On either side of the wound there is an adhesive "panel" that has holes on one side. The holes from either side line up along the wound and you lace it up - pulling it as tight as you can to hold the tissue together and help the healing process. To change the dressing you only have to unlace and bend the panels back - not remove them every time.

Once I was done with the montgomery straps and my wound was healed over with no open areas I was left with a divet - for lack of a better term - running right down the middle of my belly, from just below my sternum to my pubic bone. This photo sort of gives an idea of what it is like though it isn't the best angle or lighting.

You can see how the edge of my ostomy pouch sort of "rolls" over the edge and goes down into the divet. Well, the barrier - which is what that part is called - isn't all that flexible. I believe it is made of silicone and it is pliable to an extent - but when you are trying to force something to contour to an area like this, it just doesn't want to. I would be able to get it to stick for a bit as long as I didn't do a lot of bending. Or twisting. Or reaching. Or moving around in my sleep.

So, I would try to tape it down. I have ALL KINDS OF TAPE from the hospital. Latex free. Water proof. Paper. Foam. Seriously, every kind. I tried them all, they all worked to an extent but none well enough to really make me feel THAT secure that the edge wasn't going to lift up and cause me an accident. Not only that, but with the addition of the tape my skin started to have reactions. What it was reacting to I am not really sure - I think it was just the fact of having another thing on my skin. So, my skin would start to weep (get wet) and of course then the tape wouldn't stick. So, I would use an ostomy belt. I also use the ostomy belt when I run for added support FYI. Anyway, the belt was great but it caused the top and bottom edges to begin to raise up because it put so much pressure on the sides. I was in a losing battle it seemed.

Of course my wound/ostomy nurses and surgeon were in on everything I was trying and share their ideas, tips and tricks as well. It got to the point that I was willing to suffer through the weepy, red, irritated skin if it meant not being worried about potentially having an accident. day in the mail came the Brava Elastic Barrier Strips. I didn't read over the literature thoroughly at first. I took a look at the product and had a pre-conceived notion of what it was and thought I didn't really have a use for it at the time. For some reason I thought it went UNDER the skin barrier...??? Why? I don't know. One night as I was organizing my in home wound/ostomy clinic (that's supposed to be funny) I opened the product and read through the literature. I immediately took a picture of it and sent it to my wound/ostomy nurse and told her I was giving it a go!

As you can see it is a 1/2 moon shape that fits nicely around one side of a round faceplate, skin barrier - whatever you call the part of your ostomy appliance that adheres to your skin. We all call it something different it seems LOL! You can apply it any which way you want...along the left side, right side. Around the top or bottom. You can use 2 to have coverage all the way around.

I started off just using one on the side of the divet to try and prevent the edge from coming up. I only got 2 in the trial sample so I didn't to use them at the same time and then not have ANY if I ended up liking them!

So there I am with my pouch on and the barrier strip on the edge of the divet.

Here are the two pictures side by side so you can hopefully see what the difference is:

You can see the barrier strip covers part of the skin barrier and then goes on to adhere to my skin. It is so flexible that I can manipulate it into the little crevice/dip/divet and get a really good seal. It truly does help prevent the edge of my skin barrier from coming up. I typically only one strip on that side of the skin barrier - however I have worn 2 to cover the entire circumference of the skin barrier when I am looking to get super extended wear time.

The product is very easy on my extremely sensitive skin. It is stretchy; so when I twist, bend, sleep, stretch, whatever it moves with me and doesn't pull at my skin at all. It is very forgiving. So far I haven't had an negative effect from the materials - it hasn't made me itch, made my skin weep or any of the host of other issues I have had with various tapes in the same area.

I think these will be another alternative to the "sure seal" products that provide added security to the skin barrier for athletic activities and swimming. I had a severe skin reaction to other products that are produced for that purpose and I am happy that I now have the Brava strips to use instead.

20 strips come in a box and you should be able to order them from any supplier that carries Coloplast products. Of course, you'll want to check with your individual insurance company regarding your coverage for this specific item. You can also contact Coloplast directly and request samples of this as well as their other ostomy products. I also use their strip paste, moldable ring, ostomy belt and Assura 1-piece opaque convex drainable easi-close with filter. Click any of those links to go to their website and you should be able to find a spot to request samples.

I hope this review was helpful and if you have any specific questions please feel free to leave a comment here or over on my facebook page Detoured Fashion.

Please remember, we are all different and my experience with a product may be completely different from your experience. That is why it is so great that companies provide samples so that you can give things a try before committing to ordering an entire box of something. IF you have ordered an entire box of something and it no longer suits your ostomy needs - would you consider donating it to one of my favorite non-profits so that it can be distributed to those who may not be able to afford the supplies that they need? You can contact Girls with Guts or email for more information.

Be awesome and always find your silver lining!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Give it a rest

I'm back to battling my body. I have/had been having drainage issues relating to my original surgery and the perineal wound. I began keeping a health journal to record all things surrounding the episodes of drainage. It culminated in a weekend of extreme pain - to the point I didn't even want to walk - and a surgeon ordered MRI. The MRI showed a large pocket of fluid sitting in my pelvis where my anus used to be extending up above my pelvic floor muscles.

My surgeon fit me in the surgery schedule for the day after the results came back and I scrambled to get everything arranged in order to spend at least 2 days in the hospital. Things can never go easy for me and even with the assistance of anesthesia I ended up being poked 6 times trying to get an IV started, eventually ending up with a pediatric anesthesiologist who started a line with the teensiest tiniest gauge needle - just to get me in the OR and asleep. Once I was under they started a larger gauge IV in another location.

What we have here is L-R and top-bottom poke sites on left arm (he went in the AC 3 times there), using the ultrasound on the right AC, the aftermath of sticking the right AC and the pediatric IV in a place I absolutely HATE.

Everything went well and I came out with two IVs and a wound vac to aid in healing. She decided to keep me overnight to control my pain better - and honestly I think to keep a closer eye on me since I don't have the best track record when it comes to post-op complications.

Other random pictures from that 36 hours:
Same ordering - presents waiting for me in the holding area, modeling my new friend the wound vac, HUGE socks and getting the good stuff in IV #2.

At posting I am almost 1 week post-op and healing well. The wound is down to 3.5cm deep and I am pretty sure she told me when I came out of surgery it was a good 5-6cm deep - making progress! Still sporting the wound vac and probably will be for at least another week plus some days. Whatever it takes to make this thing heal correctly this time, I'll do it. I want to get back to doing the things I want to do without limitations.

My body really HATES surgery and has decided to SHOW me how much it hates it. I've got a mouth full of ulcers (stress) and my skin is broken out in a hot mess around my stoma (stress). This is what I look like right now...when I change my ostomy appliance I TRY to let my skin take a break (sometimes I don't have the time for all that!). On this day I had the time and figured I would do a GOOD job of taking a break and coated my skin with zinc oxide - the same thing you might put on your nose to prevent sunburn. You can see the tubing from my wound vac running across me and there is a little tiny dark spot up and to the right of my stoma (the rosey looking dot) - THAT people is my belly button. Or, what is left of it :)

Monday, January 28, 2013


Some people I like to stalk (Charis,Jackie) have put blood, sweat, poop and tears (ahha!) into making this dream a reality for SO many people!! Today they released more information about the 2013 Girls with Guts Retreat!

Click HERE to check out the deets!

Hope to see you there!!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Back in the swing of things

I won't make excuses. Blogging hasn't been a priority lately. I guess I just didn't think it necessary to write for the sake of writing. I remembered I had taken some pictures a while back that I wanted to use in a post - so here we go.

Back to the essence of the blog...ostomy fashion!

Another example of using the "belly band"

Here is am in dressier denim with a lightweight sweater. These jeans have no belt loops, they are a higher rise and they have a wide waistband - all great for ostomates! A few pictures of what it looks like before I added my "belly band".

Tricky part is, the dryer fairy has gotten ahold of this sweater a few times and it has shrunk. When I raise my arms it rises and while that doesn't bother me, I was going to work and that's not the most professional look to be having.

So, I decided to throw on my upsidedown Victoria's Secret bandeau top - it is my go to for these instances.

So, I get the coverage I want in case I have to reach up on a shelf without the added bulkiness of an entire shirt or tank UNDERNEATH my sweater. Win win! I have this bandeau top in black, white and tan. I had intended to order more once I figured out if they were going to work for me, but by that time they were sold out and I haven't seen them again since.

I know there are other similar products out there such as maternity belly bands and some infomercial products as well. Hope that helps someone!!

Remember to find your silver linig.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Only time will tell

I’m gonna rewind here for a few, I hope you don’t mind. I hadn’t planned this post to happen on this day – it just kind of worked out that way and now I feel like I owe the day the “respect” it deserves for lack of a better analogy.

A year ago today, I made a phone call I had made many times before. I called my mommy. I was sick, I knew it was not a sick like I had been before and I was afraid I was going to die. Seriously…I did. I know a lot of people throw that phrase around non-chalantly “I almost died!” or “OMG, I would just die!” There was one time before in my battle with Crohn’s disease that I thought I was going to die – funny thing is that we didn’t even KNOW I had Crohn’s disease! Huh. Weird how that works out. Anyway, I really thought I was going to die, the pain was nothing I had experienced before. The fever wouldn’t go away. I was going to the bathroom more times in a day than most people did in a month. I felt like my insides were turning wrong-side-out. That was the beginning of the end for my colon.

The last 12 months have been a roller coaster. Surgery. Then a complication and another surgery and again. And one last time. You can get the full scoop HERE if you don’t already know. Even after the surgeries I had more hurdles to jump over. I knew going in that surgery wasn’t the “easy way out” but I swear I had NO idea WHAT “could go wrong”. Even if I had known that these things were going to happen, I would have done it anyway because my life is SO much better now than it was on this very day last year.

After I participated in Take Steps San Antonio in October I set my sights on Team Challenge ½ marathon as my next event. I had been cleared to exercise (finally) and went right to work. Well, you can probably guess that I had some issues. And even now, I have issues. But, if I want to do what I have set out to do I just have to push through them and know my limits. As you may have read I have an amazing relationship with my medical team and they are always in close contact so that if ANYTHING comes up that is out of the ordinary I receive immediate attention.

I started the Couch to 5K program and was about ½ way through it last weekend when I ran in the Color Me Rad 5k here in San Antonio. Okay, I ran and walked. I followed the C25K plan for the day and finished in about 47min going just over 3.3 miles (I circled back for friends!) My first event just so happened to coincide with Team Challenge Rock n’ Roll marathon & ½ marathon in Las Vegas. I promise I did NOT plan that. Those people in Vegas kept me going – everytime I thought “screw it, I’m just gonna walk” I imagined ALL.THOSE.PEOPLE in Las Vegas running for me! They were there because they believe in me – they believe that there will be a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They believe that I deserve treatment, education and activities that help with IBD. I couldn’t let them down.

As I got towards the end of the race the last 11 months literally flashed before my eyes. It was like a music video in my mind – all the images of my body, my family, the hospital, exam rooms, things I had done, people I had met, conversations I had participated in – all of it just went whizzing by. I was totally overcome by emotion – my body almost stopped on me, like it was in shock. I was seriously about to complete a 5k. 6 months ago I would have LAUGHED at someone if they said I would finish a 5k a year from the day I thought I was going to die. Hell, I still had an open wound on my abdomen then! As I started up the hill to go under the FINISH arch I put my hands on top of my head and started to cry. For the FIRST time in a LONG time I felt “normal”, whatever that is!?

I crossed the finish line by myself – well, there were lots of people going through – but none that I knew or had come with. There was no one waiting for me to celebrate my victory. I had originally thought I wanted someone to be there – but when the moment happened I couldn’t have been happier to be doing it alone. FINALLY something that was My life with Crohn’s disease has been about everyone else; work, friends, family – the way it sneaks in and disrupts every aspect. But this – this day, this 3.1 miles, THIS was all me and so I was okay with being alone at the finish line. It gave me a chance to reflect on who I am. Who I have become over the past year. Who I struggle to be.

I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a friend. I am a patient. I am an advocate. I am a voice. I am a warrior (and have the scars to prove it!) I AM CROHN’S DISEASE, it is NOT me.

I dedicate that 3.1miles to every single person out there who is in a place right now that you don’t think you can get out of. I’m here to tell you that you can. All you have to do is reach out, there is an entire community of people out there ready and willing to take you by the hand and show you how. You just have to want to do it.

Please come back this week – I’ll be doing an entire post dedicated to the IBD community by linking up all the places I go to for support, information or just a good laugh!

Find your silver lining and BE AWESOME!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Purple Out People!!! #gopurple #purplechallenge

Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week starts tomorrow and we are so excited to celebrate it with everyone in our IBD family!

What is Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week?
As a result of a federal bill introduced by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Congressman Andrew Crenshaw (R-FL-4) passed in 2011, Congress declared December 1-7 to be Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week to educate Americans about the diseases and encourage people to join in the effort to find a cure for IBD. This resolution was passed in thanks to some great Senators and Representatives who cosponsored it including:
·      Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)
·      Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)
·      Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
·      Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
·      Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)
·      Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
·      Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
·      Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
·      Congressman Rush Holt (D-NH-12)
·      Congressman Jesse Jackson (D-IL-1)
·      Congressman Pete King (R-NY-3)
·      Congressman Tom Latham (R-IA-4)
·      Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-14)
·      Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA-3)
·      Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA-8)
·      Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY-15)
·      Congressman Dennis Ross (R-FL-12)
·      Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH-12)
·      Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA-9)

Why celebrate?
Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis impact millions of people nationwide. We don’t have to tell you how debilitating these two incurable diseases can be- the cramping, the diarrhea, the constant urgency, the food limitations, and so on.

Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week is celebrated to make people aware of these diseases and raise money to bring us close to finding a cure.

How to celebrate this year
A group of Crohn’s and Colitis bloggers are coming together to celebrate this year with a Go Purple Challenge.

From December 1-7, we are going to wear an item of purple in honor of Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week. Whether it’s a shirt, bracelet, pants, socks, nail polish- it doesn’t matter as long as it’s visible and purple!

Each day, we are going to take a picture and post it on our blogs, Facebook, & Twitter to share with our followers to show our support of the Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week.

We are challenging all of you to join us!

Wear purple and take a photo of it each day and post it to your blog, Facebook, or Twitter with the hashtag [#GOpurple  or #PurpleChallenge]. At the end of the week, we’ll compile all the photos on our blogs to share with everyone.

Want to celebrate but can’t participate in our challenge?
Check out the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s website for ideas- they have some great one’s listed for ways to participate in the week.

Happy Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week!

Rebecca (, @caringforcrohns)
Sarah (, @SarahChoueiry)
Melissa  (, @allbluezoo)
Louise (, @sapphire20)
Kristen (

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

#NHBPM - what day is it?!

Guess what? I didn't blog everyday. 

Guess what else?  I think that's great!

You know why it is great?

Because it means LIFE was getting in the way and that is A-O-K with me.

I've been black Friday shopping, putting up decorations, visiting friends, celebrating new babies, enjoying time with my family and generally just not worrying about Crohn's disease one-freaking-bit. 

Can you GRASP the enormity of that? 


For those of you WITH IBD you probably can grasp that, for those who are closest to me and really understand what the past 9 years (specifically the past 18months) was like - you probably grasp it too. 

I'm stuck between crying for joy and getting shit-faced on peppermint schnapps.  Okay, I'm not gonna get drunk on schnapps b/c that is WAY too much sugar and I'd be up all damn night - but you're pickin' up what I'm throwin' down.

Sorry if you were counting on my infinite wisdom imparted into a blog post for every day of NHBPM....I promise to make it up to you somehow, k?

Find your silver lining and be awesome!