Shaving With a G-Tube and Keeping My Stoma Clean
Previously, I wrote an article about my love/hate relationship with my g-tube (Steve Stoma).
One of the main reasons why it felt like such a big deal was keeping the stoma clean. Like I don’t have enough to worry about or deal with on a daily basis with SMA (breathing treatments, suctioning, cough assist, sitting comfortably in my wheelchair, etc.). Now I had to worry about Steve.
Keeping my stoma clean while shaving
The biggest challenge for keeping it clean was when it came time to shave my beard for the first time. How am I going to protect Steve? What if a hair gets stuck in the stoma?
I encourage you not to Google pictures of infected g-tubes, or maybe you’ve unfortunately experienced it yourself, but it scared me enough to take every precaution. I wasn’t going to find out what that felt like... or smelled like.
Thinking of ways to cover my stoma
So, my mom and I began to think of ways to cover Steve Stoma and minimize the amount of fallen hair after shaving or a haircut. Typically, I shave my beard at least once a week, or else I start to look like a lumberjack.
Prior to my g-tube, I would have someone shave me while they helped me in the shower, but being completely naked seemed like the easiest way for a hair to find its way to my stoma.
The first solution was shaving in the evenings while sitting in my wheelchair. I would roll into the bathroom, recline, and drape a couple of beach towels over me. This seemed to work fine except I didn’t take a shower after finishing and there were always residual hairs stuck to my face and neck.
Showering with a PICC line
The week before I had my g-tube surgery, I had a PICC line inserted to help with nutrition. Those 7 days were hell with every one of my nurses and family members vigilantly making sure my arm didn’t swell or the port wasn’t infected.
I couldn’t take a shower because PICC lines can’t get wet, but after a few days, I started to smell pretty gross like some forgotten nachos.
A nurse from the infusion company who was caring for my PICC Line recommended we buy Glad Press’n Seal to wrap around my arm. It worked like charm and kept my PICC Line bone dry.
Using Press'n Seal to keep areas dry
If that could stop a PICC Line from getting wet, then we were pretty sure it could protect ol’ Steve Stoma from a few beard hairs.
With that idea, I was able to return to shaving in the shower. Before going in, we cut a square piece of Press’n Seal that covers the majority of my stomach. We then secure the sides and top with some surgical tape.
After shaving, we soap and rinse my body to make sure all the hair is gone and then remove the Press’n Seal and rinse one more time before getting out of the shower.
Are there other tips to care for a g-tube?
This technique also works for haircuts! I just put on the Press’n Seal under my clothes before heading over to the barber.
You’re probably thinking this is a little over the top, but Steve Stoma is my friend and I believe in protecting my friends. Anyway, I’m interested to hear how you care for your g-tube.
Which emotional aspect of SMA do you find most difficult?