Spinal cord injury and cranky bowels go hand and hand. SCI tends to shunt our bowels into the slow lane, which is often at the core of many related problems cited by wheelers. Aging tends to slow them down more. For some that’s enough to cause persistent and significant constipation, long programs, irregularity and unpredictability sufficient to force major surgical action.

A colostomy involves surgically redirecting the colon (large intestine) to a stoma (surgically-created hole) in the abdominal region to allow fecal matter to exit the body and into a bag the user wears for that purpose. This is not some cosmetic or to-be-considered-lightly procedure; a colostomy is usually a major surgery which significantly alters the body and how it performs a very basic and vital task.

Some may have colostomies thrust upon them due to a blockage in the colon. For others, the risk of infection when dealing with skin sores or prior to skin flap surgery is high enough to recommend a preventive colostomy. Unlike most colostomies, the preventative colostomy is usually reversible. Even so, a good number of wheelers come to like the freedom, simplicity and speed colostomies often afford them and choose to keep them.

After 10 years of unpredictable involuntary bowel movements and two-hour bowel programs, complete with blood pressure spikes and painful hemorrhoids, Ricky Harvey decided he’d had enough. Steve Pisano spent seven years dealing with chronic constipation, two to three-hour long programs, hemorrhoids and stressing about skin and invols. Eventually, both decided a colostomy would solve their problems. Now, years later, both wonder why they waited so long.

Despite good dietary habits and adequate hydration, Clar