”As easy as one, two, three...” Everywhere we hear or see commercials about technical things. We hear that it's so easy, almost intuitive. What many of us have learned – sometimes the hard way – is that if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true... Some things need to take time and practise.
Transanal irrigation (TAI)
When it comes to transanal irrigation it's the same thing. It´s not all that easy. At least not in the beginning. The statistics are clear; a lot of people stop using TAI within the first few months. I'm sure some of them stopped because TAI wasn't really for them, but a lot of them because it was a bit tricky in the start and they had no one to help them through that period.
After using TAI for more than five years, I can honestly say it's a bigger hassle to make breakfast than using TAI. But that´s not where I started. And it's not always an easy procedure. As a peer user I want to give you some practical tips and tricks I have discovered along the road. A few of them may be useful for you as well.
First of all it takes time with the bowel. It is probably the part of the body that takes the longest time to adjust to a new situation. Allow your bowel to adjust. Create routines for food and bowel so it can fall into a good pace.
Evaluate and re-learn
Over the years I have adjusted how I perform my regime. One example is that I now use TAI every third day instead of every second, which I did during the first few years.
Amount of water
I use about 500-600 ml. When using this amount of water I can feel it reaching up to where the intests turn 90 degrees, just below the ribs on my left side. Bowel treatment is not science – it's art – so do your own thing, your own way.
Holding the catheter
Having a spinal cord injury (SCI), I have no control over my sphincter muscle. And it's the same for most of my peers. That would exclude us from TAI. I see it as an advantage to hold onto the catheter.
Many times I have been asked questions about how long time everything takes. My normal routine is as follows: Empty my bladder, insert the catheter and fill the bowel with water, take out the catheter and wait, and finally emptying the bowels - all in all 25-40 min.
Using gloves and your hand
I need to use a finger up my butt to help the sphincter relax so the stool can pass. It also seems to trigger the reflexes so it helps a lot.
This was the short version of my tips & tricks. Please click the button for full version. I hope some of these ideas will help you with your bowel management!