Charlie’s story – Dealing with sore skin and stoma bag leakages

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Sore skin. Bag leakages. These four words are a common source of anxiety for people with a stoma. They’re also something that Charlie Bremmell became all too familiar with after her stoma surgery.

Charlie, 36, lives in west Cornwall with her daughter Lauren. She has had an ileostomy since 2008 due to ulcerative colitis. Immediately after leaving hospital, Charlie began to experience sore skin and frequent stoma bag leaks as a result of this. 

Like many others with a stoma, Charlie thought this was just the ‘norm’ and a reaction that comes with having a stoma. She thought it was something she’d just have to live with for the rest of her life.

Charlie wanted to share her story with the Bladder and Bowel Community about how she solved her issues with sore skin and stoma leakages.

Charlie's Story
Charlie with her daughter Lauren

Charlie remembers the day she came out of hospital all too well, but for all the wrong reasons. For most people who have been in hospital before, being told they’re getting discharged gives them that overwhelming sense of freedom; but this wasn’t the case for Charlie.

As soon as she left hospital, Charlie started to experience painfully sore skin, which was constantly moist and bleeding.

“It was like a vicious circle. I would get leaks, which meant my skin got sore from the output being next to it and that soreness made it harder to get a bag to stay on. This meant more leaks.”

As a new mum, this undoubtedly made Charlie’s day to day life with a stoma all the more difficult. She thought things were never going to improve.

“I couldn’t go out anywhere with the baby without being afraid the bag was going to leak. I really thought that my life was never going to be the same again.

“Wearing anything tight like jeans was a no-no as that increased the chance of a leak. I just wanted to concentrate on being a mum, not worrying about bags and leaks.”

Charlie was stuck in a rut to say the least. She thought she’d never find a solution to her issues. That was until a relative who has a stoma recommended Charlie try something new, something different – ConvaTec’s Mouldable Technology™. Unsure of what to expect, and not expecting much after her experience with her previous bags, Charlie decided she would request a sample from the ConvaTec product team. 

“I just thought it was worth a try to be honest. I never would have thought that the solution would be something as simple as changing products, but it was an instant win for me,” she said. 

“I didn’t expect much from the samples to be honest, I just thought leaks were something to put up with, so I was shocked and amazed at how well they worked for me. Now I can go out without worrying, spend quality time with my daughter and eat without panicking. It really has been life changing.”

The only stoma solution of its kind available in the UK, ConvaTec Mouldable Technology™, “rebounds” to fit any stoma size and shape, providing an incredibly secure, snug fit.

With Mouldable Technology, a person with a stoma simply has to roll and mould the adhesive to fit the stoma. The mouldable seal “turtlenecks” upward to enhance the seal and maximize skin protection.

“My stoma has prolapsed in the past and can change size quite a lot. I find that the adhesive moves with my stoma and doesn’t cause restrictions or leave gaps where soreness could start to occur. It’s just so much different to anything I’ve ever tried before,” Charlie said.

“I can’t even put into words how I felt before I discovered Mouldable. I sometimes forget that my stoma is even there and I don’t even feel like I’m wearing a bag – I’m just so grateful that ConvaTec Mouldable Technology™ exists.”

Charlie wanted to give her advice to others who may be in her shoes and feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

“The best advice I can give to other people struggling with sore skin and leakages is to try anything until you find what works for you. You shouldn’t have to suffer, and you should be able to get on with your life the way you want.

“For me, it was as simple as changing products – very often people don’t realise that they do have a choice of what products they use, and so my advice would be to find what suits you the best and don’t settle for the wrong product for you.

“I hope that my experience can help in some way anybody reading this. Have faith and hope. Things will get better.”

You can find out more and request free samples of ConvaTec Mouldable Technology™ here.