Blockages: Fool me twice, shame on me


Mistakes were made.  I admit it, but if I don’t learn from those mistakes then I’ll continue to suffer needlessly with blockages.  It was just over a week after I written about having partial blockage with my ostomy that I experienced what a full-blown, “get your ass to the ER” type blockage feels like, and I’ll be sharing that experience with you today.

Original post published April 14th, 2014.

First off, let me say that blockages can happen for a wide number of reasons: active IBD, adhesions (scar tissue), poorly chewed food, an ostomy appliance that’s too tight, hernia’s, etc.  In my case, it seems that my foolishness was the cause.

Last Wednesday, we planned on taking the kids out to go indoor rock-climbing.  Not wanting to come home late to eat dinner, I decided to have a quick meal before we left, so I opened up a few cans of beans, chopped up some tomatoes, seasoned it all and ate.

Now, when I say a “few cans of beans”, I mean two cans of BLACK BEANS and a can of red kidney beans, all split between me and my two kids (mostly me).  I’m a huge legume fan, and I’ll easily eat an entire can of kidney beans, chickpeas or lentils, but I’ve never eaten black beans like this and certainly not in such a rush.

We left the house and proceeded to the community center and about an hour in I felt some discomfort in my belly.  This did not get any better as the night went on and by the time 11 pm rolled around, I was in the bathroom massaging around my stoma to see if I could get something to come out.

Three hours later (yup), I did get some output from my stoma and was too tired to continue, so I put a new pouch on and went to bed. Sleep didn’t last long and at about 5 am I woke up to vomit.  It’s never good to see the food you ate 12 hours ago coming back up, but this did relieve some discomfort and resulting in some more output from my stoma.

Thursday started off normally, but I chose not to eat as I wasn’t seeing any output in my pouch and I still had a lot of cramping. My wife went out for the day, but when she returned late afternoon, we headed back to Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto to get this checked out.  By this time, I had vomited several more times and my abdomen was distended.

We got there just after 7 pm and it wasn’t too busy.  I had some blood work done and waited a few hours before being moved to a small room down the hall.  After some x-rays were done, I spoke with an MD who admitted me.

At around 2:30 am I had some CT scans done to see where the blockage was and if it was caused by adhesions or not.  I’m glad I have such an appreciation for science and technology and asked the Radiologist plenty of questions while he was setting up.  I really hate the fact that CT Scans expose people to a LOT of radiation, but this scan was necessary.

NG Tube
Are we having fun yet?

As we waiting for the scan results (which wouldn’t come for many hours), I had an NG tube inserted to relive some pressure and to remove excess “stuff” from my stomach.  The process involves putting a tube into your stomach, through your nose – while you’re completely awake and without anything to prevent your gag reflex from going into overdrive.

I had another x-ray to confirm that the placement of the NG Tube was correct.  The hope is that once the tube is inserted correctly, the gag reflex will stop, but for me (lucky me), it didn’t, and I gagged and vomited into sheer exhaustion – many times over, for the rest of the day.

Moving, talking, bending, breathing ALL caused a gag reaction and by the end of the day, this all resulted in a very sore throat.

Just before noon on Friday, I was met by a doctor who said the CT scan shows that my blockage is close to the stoma, so he inserted a foley catheter into my stoma and we waited to see if anything would pass. It wasn’t until about 6 pm that I was seen by another doctor and we tried a different foley catheter.

I’m not sure if it was longer or wider, but it worked – oh boy did it work!

There was an immediate relief as the pressure was taken off my abdomen and lots of backed up stool left my body.  Finally!   We still needed to monitor the output, so the NG tube stayed in until the next morning. Removing it was wasn’t as traumatic, but it certainly wasn’t pleasant.

Call me weird, but I’ll look for stuff to observe no matter what situation I’m in, and every time I emptied my pouch, I’d check to see what was coming out.  It’s unsettling to see black bean skins from Wednesday still showing up Saturday, but it illustrates how easily things can stay “lost” inside us, and it likely accumulates if we aren’t careful.

Saturday was quite a different day, and without the NG tube, I felt quite a bit more comfortable.  I started on liquids, then by dinner was having a gourmet meal of pasta and applesauce (sarcasm aside, I’m not going to complain, it was a very welcomed meal!).  I walked around the hospital floor (estimated over 2km throughout the day) and anticipated my discharge the following day.

Hospital food
My “gourmet meal”.

Sunday, early AM, I’m seen by a doctor on the surgical team who cleared me as good to go.  My IV was removed and I had a bagel with peanut butter and orange juice and got my stuff ready to go. I chatted with a few other patients in my ward: one 77-year old, retired high-school teacher, who talked about his time in Australia before moving to Canada in the 60’s, and his fight with multiple cancers.

And another gentleman who, like me, has been fighting Crohn’s disease and has an ostomy.  Talking with these two men was bittersweet because while I enjoyed their company, I knew that our struggle to find good health wasn’t over and future “bad days” seemed guaranteed.

So now I’m home, completely exhausted by the entire ordeal, but glad that it’s over. I’ll be doing a modified post-ileostomy diet for a few days and then go back to regular foods (minus the black beans!).

A part of me feels that taking one day a week to just eat low-fiber, output-inducing foods might go a long way to preventing avoidable blockages, especially with the high-fiber diet I’m used to having.

My thoughts on the experience:

  • Slow down and chew your damn food! No more rushing to eat, no more bite and swallow.
  • Black beans.  Not even once. (Ok, maybe a few in some chili…).
  • I’m going to assume that my gut, like a drain, will accumulate stuff until it clogs.  Prevention is the key.
  • Move away from eating one or two huge meals a day to eating several smaller meals throughout the day.
  • I’ll consider a “purge day” where I’ll encourage looser output.
  • I’m realizing that the stoma pain and retractions that I’ve had off and on these past few weeks could be related to a blockage in the making.  Time to listen more to my body.
Left: What my stoma usually looks like Right: My stoma struggling to pass an obstruction

I’d like to thank the staff at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, especially all the wonderful people on the 14th floor who helped me through this.


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Amazing. I just had worse blockage ever. Too much corn. I’ve had Broccoli block 10 years ago. Went to ER. NG Tube, Morphine, They wanted take me to surgery, but pleaded to wait another hr. It cleared 20 minutes later.

Then 4 years ago had a brown rice blockage. Cleared my self w/ turkey baster irrigation

Then worse ever 2 days ago from corn which i never had a problem with..

Too busy, too hungry, ate too much tasty buttered corn from the grocery store hot food section. The butter and salt was too tasty, and caught me off guard. That was 2 P.M. Nothing passing after 11pm. Got suspicious. then 5 am felt the dull pain building.

If you’ve had one of these before.. You have that moment of impending doom. where panic sits in as you know the torture and pain waiting for you over the next 6 hours, with worse case being an ER trip, and being out for 4 weeks after a major surgery. On top of that you fee like a complete idiot thinking it’s just because of eating the wrong food too fast and you should have know better. — Then thinking how to explain to people at work that your going to ER, cause you ate too much Corn or Broccoli is even worse. They think your full of it. It’s like being in a trap, knowing there is no easy way out.

Anyways: by 9 am. decided to wait it out till 12 PM then go to ER if it didn’t clear. Using an Ear Cleaner to irrigate every 30 minutes.. and take warm bath. Nothing worked. — Terrible vomit. too weak to even call friend or ER. Had last gasp almost passed out throwing up. Then had it relieve at about 11:20. WOW. Then over the next hours had multiple purges. My house looks like a crime scene.

2 days later still feel weak. Been drinking V8 (thx to info on this website), water and Oatmeal . WOW. What a relief. Worse pain i ever had. Worse day i ever had.

I Think there might be a little blockage left, when I purge. I can feel pain right next to the ileostomy exit, which clears once i expunge. Wow. Still some light nausea and weakest.

Hopefully feel better tomorrow. How long does take to feel 100% better? I’m hoping everything clears up .. I not I’m going to Dr.tomorrow. Not sure what they can do for partial block. If you can’t tell i really don’t like going to the Dr :)


trixiemom on uoaa debbi
trixiemom on uoaa debbi

I also have an ileo and am vegan. Prior to my changing to plant base eating I was diagnosed with colon inertia got my ileo in Nov 2010 had a permanent one in Jan 2012 and then found out about a vegan lifestyle. I have had 1 blockage while eating vegan and 2 prior to changing. I am just glad to know I am not the only vegan ostomy out there.

Ryan & Carly
Ryan & Carly

Oh my goodness!! So glad you are out of there now and feeling better. That is absolutely terrifying; blockages escelate so quickly :( Did they explain why the foley catheter is what worked to unblock you? So curious…

Happy chewing! :)


It must be something going around – last week I too had severe pain that sent me to the Ajax/Pickering ER. I found doing child’s pose on the floor helped some but it was still the most painful thing I have ever felt and I gave birth to two huge kids without pain relief! After vomiting in the ER I felt much better. I got an X-ray and the doctor just said there were no obstruction but I was constipated. I got a fleet enema via my stoma and got cleaned out. A home care nurse I spoke with was surprised to hear I got a fleet enema – I guess because of applicator long size and the risk of perforation. Kind of freaks me just thinking about it now. I’ve upped my liquid intake and that seems to have helped.
Glad to hear you are doing better. :)


It’s kind of funny (not funny “haha”) about a week or two ago I had just about the same experience except my blockage was caused from swelling from my ileo surgery 3 weeks ago. They did the same thing – NG tube and foley catheter. I also continued to vomit with NG tube in. Turns out that the resident that put it in, put it in too far (about 12cm). After another dr pulled it back 12cm, the vomiting finally stopped. Though, I was mostly dry heaving by this time, which in many ways is worse. The foley catheter worked like a charm for me! The hospital sent me home with a few catheters in case it happens again. My mom is staying with me while I recover and she was a nurse for 20yrs.

Rev. Russell Elleven, DMin

Damn man…sorry you (and your family) had to go through all that! What a great learning attitude you have.