My first major blockage

A couple of months back, I wrote a post on here about dealing with some minor blockage pain. The other night, I got a rude awakening. I was dead asleep, but was woken up around 2:30 in the morning with a horrible pain in my stomach and the feeling that I was going to throw up. On top of that I had a very full bag that was entirely liquid.

On any given night, I may wake up once to empty my bag, but it’s usually after 4 a.m. Oftentimes, I don’t have to deal with it at all until I wake up for the day.

I got up to empty the bag, but couldn’t shake the nauseous feeling. I even took a zofran (for the nausea), but it made absolutely no difference. About 20 minutes after emptying the bag, it had filled up with liquid again. Altogether, in about an hour’s time, I emptied the bag 4 times, the final two times it was clear liquid. At first, I had thought I had food poisoning, but by this point I was pretty sure it was a blockage.

stephanie hughes stoma ostomy ileostomy stolen colon crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd blog blockageI tried massaging my stomach, which seemed to help after a while. I had also heard that you should try moving into different positions to help move things around. The only other thing I could think of would be to take a warm bath, then try to relax the stomach muscles, but it was the middle of the night and I was still half asleep and I didn’t end up doing that. Although I was very concerned at the time that I would have to go to the emergency room, I was able to deal with it at home.

The best thing I found was to relax as best as I could and keep rubbing my stomach. Eventually, I was able to get things moving again and even fall back asleep. The next morning, I still felt a little out of sorts and was putting out only liquid. I had a smoothie and coffee for breakfast, just to help things along. It wasn’t until the afternoon that things got back to normal.

It was a really scary night and honestly, it hurt worse than I had imagined. The hardest part is just not knowing what to do. The last thing I want to do is to head to the hospital in the middle of the night when there may not even be a real need. But I also don’t want to cause any bigger issues simply because I don’t want to do that.

This has made me realize even more how important it is to be careful while I eat and to thoroughly chew everything. And possibly the most important thing: drink lots of water!

16 thoughts on “My first major blockage

    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      I’m feeling pretty fortunate that I was able to get passed it on my own. I’m realizing, however, how much effort it requires to pay close attention to everything you eat and how well you chew it. It’s going to take some time to make that a habit :-/

    2. Theresa McDermott

      Just came across ur site so this is a new comment to your “blockage” story. I too have an ileostomy, 30 yrs now, due to Crohn’s disease and I can appreciate your ‘blockage’ story as I’ve experienced several of my own. You’re right, they’re no fun at all!!!
      One thing I added to my routine for getting through this is to use a flexible catheter; I think that’s what it’s called. It’s a red rubber flexible tube that u can insert into ur stoma to gently help to move things around. Sometimes it works right away; and sometimes you still need lots of patience!!!!
      Either way, it has become a permanent part of my ‘bag supply’ bag! I am always welcoming of hints, ideas & suggestions from other
      “bag folks” as I wasn’t aware of this till just a couple of yrs ago.
      As I’ve said to my fram-ily before, life is good when ur bagged!!!!
      Take care & stay well! 😊

  1. kerricg225

    I can totally relate. I go through about a blockage a week,seriously. My bag will put out nothing for 5-7 hours and then I know its time to go because by that time I’ve vomited and am in excruciating pain. It’s not that I am eating anything out of the ordinary considering I was in the hospital with a blockage and the NG tube for 11 days. I stayed on liquids except for yogurt. I wish I can get the blockages to pass on my own but I need the IV fluids and pain meds to get me through. My hospital is so used to me I know the custodians,aids,security and all the nurses and Dr’s. Some don’t believe me whole heartedly which drives me nuts. They think I’m there seeking pain meds, not the case I have plenty at home. Regardless, I keep going to the same hospital. One day I had to get another Ct scan , after entirely too many but that was the way they could see beyond the x-ray and my surgeon who did my kinked intestinal surgery looked at it and told the Docs in the ER that I am loaded with scar tissue, he showed it to them on the scan and said I am very sick and he won’t be operating until I fully block from the scar tissue. Basically, it has to be emergency and he’ll operate but more surgery will cause more scar tissue.

    The point I was getting to before my rant was I have had blockages where only fluid will go through in large amounts, like you explained. It is crazy. I’ve even taken Milk of Magnesia to try to pass a partial obstruction and that didn’t go through. My December has been awful due to this situation. But just so you know – you are not alone, I know how you feel the pain that’s unbearable and the nausea. The ER is not fun in the middle of the night or the middle of the day. I will pray you don’t have to deal with this situation any longer and I’ll do the same for myself.


    1. Jane Gaskins

      Omg, I can do relate to your story. My story is very complicated, needless to say after 8 stomach operations and countless trips to the hospital in the middle of the night. Last night was my worse yet.I was in agony, I was sick four times.I was in so much pain the temptation to call an ambulance for thought in my mind, I needed morphine. BUT I have a dog and live alone. And no one toll call at 3am. I honestly didn’t think I would make it through the night, I really thought I was going to die on the bathroom floor.
      It started at 6pm and at 6am It cleared. Twelve hours of absolute agony.
      I feel shattered,weepy and alone.
      It’s reassuring to know I’m not the only one going through this.
      The ironic thing is there was nothing wrong with me except heartburn. 4 of the operations were caused NHS blunders initially being perforated during a gasotrophy, the other 4 putting it right. I now have a colostomy bag for life now.

    2. Kay Lynn Joye

      Hi Kerriann..I’m Kay hone at the moment with what i think is definitely a blockage….no production 2days just a few hard balls and liquid.
      I know what i did too.
      I ate popcorn and pecans at Thanksgiving.
      Im distended skin and stoma feel so tight….
      I went once to hospital same situation exactly…they said no obstruction..but after they dug day it produced.

  2. whoneedsacolonanyway

    This is exactly how I describe my blockages! Once I had to stay in the hospital for a week because of some raw carrots. It’s very comforting to know that there’s others going through the exact same things as me:)

      1. Linda

        I eat soft fresh cooked carrots, 100% whole wheat bread, avocados and Cream of Wheat almost daily. For more fiber, I add a premade peach cup to the boiling water before adding the 2-1/2 minute cook time Cream of Wheat.

        I had colostomy surgery in Sept 2016 and a blockage four weeks later. Its now Oct 17 and pray I never have another blockage. I cannot even imagine what you guys have gone through time and again. So scary. I was so scared, I did not want to leave the hospital.

        Fortunately or unfortunately, I went from 115 lbs to about 160 lbs! lol. I have added a lot of different foods since 2016 but stay away from the foods that we know are very risky. Foods I love and miss greatly.

  3. Matthew Dobos

    Hi Steph, glad to hear it worked its way out. If you feel like that again and don’t have ANY output for a while then go to the er. Trust me, fighting a full blockage is too painful and u get seriously dehydrated very quickly. Was this one due to the wrong food? My last one was two months ago snd I ate pasta. Turned out I had inflammation again. Sometimes a blockage is how you find out our old friend is back. I’m also wondering if being pregnant makes a blockage more likely? Maybe since there is less wiggle room for your gut food gets stuck? Hopefully not. Glad you’re better!

    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      I totally agree, Matthew. If it has gotten any worse, I definitely would have gone. Also, being my first one, I was a little unsure, which is likely part of why I hesitated. This one was due to some wrong food, or rather, some alright food that I just didn’t chew well enough. Being pregnant definitely can increase the likelyhood of blockages, so I am trying to be extra careful in how I eat. This is a little older post, so I was not pregnant at the time of this blockage.

  4. Dave

    I’ve been blessed not to have a major blockage in a very long time. They are zero fun. Chew. Chew. Chew and plenty of water!!!!! I had a blockage experience so bad I threw up four times before things started to get better. So I pay major attention to how I chew. Thank you for writing such an amazing blog!!!!

  5. Teddy Burr

    Hmmm….yes, I’ve been there. I’ve had my Ileostomy for 45 years. After my initial op, I was back in Hospital just 10 days later – with a blockage! I was still weak from my operation, but they operated on me again!! unnecessarily as it turned out, as my blockage was just about 3 inches below my stoma!! THIS IS THE MOST COMMON AREA where a blockage occurs, just before the stoma!! I had an “adhesion” (common) and that part was quite narrow. I was in for about a week, and kept on having the nurses “dilate” the stoma with a gloved finger….not pleasant, I can tell you!! Anyway, I’ve had a few worrying blockages since, which, thank God, managed to free themselves – and folks – these blockages were MY fault (read further on why). I know that pain…it’s an excruciating pain when the intestine is trying to push food along. Yep, water output, then NOTHING!! I kept staring at my stoma, “willing it” to work – lol.

    As we Osomists cannot “strain” to pass waste, the intestinal pushing action (peristaltic action) is less, and relies on the strength of the peristaltic action alone to push food along. With a blockage situation, the peristaltic action slows down (sort of gives up trying), so it’s important to shift a blockage as soon as you can, by trying various things. A very warm to hot bath, massaging the tummy, particularly around the stoma area. Lie in the bed and bring your knees up to your chest, hold for 10 seconds, relax, then do it a good few times more. Lie on your one side for 5 minutes, then the other. DRINK HOT TEA…REALLY helps. Drink plenty of fluids, not gassy ones though, or you may be sick, as the gas will not be able to pass through. You won’t feel at all like drinking, but you must, to keep the Kidneys functioning.

    FOODS TO AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE, and which I know for a FACT some of caused my blockages:

    Raw shredded carrot, Celery, Nuts, Sweetcorn, Popcorn, Tomato skin, Raw apples, Pineapple. pepperami, steak chunks, cabbage, Spring green onions, mushrooms.

    My last blockage (just one month ago), was from a rather large pizza which had onions, pepperami, mushrooms and Pineapple. When the blockage “moved”, pieces of pineapple were whole and as if they had not even been eaten, so I think it was that AND the mushrooms that did it, as I put loads of both on the pizza. ALSO – the quantity!! That Pizza was way too large for my poor Ileostomy to handle at one go – so – my fault – AGAIN!! Eat smaller quantity at each meal. Quality, not quantity, food. Oh, and chew, Chew, CHEW!!!

    The list goes on, but what the common denominator here can clearly be seen to be HARD, “indigestible” food that stomach acids have not been able to break down. Even undercooked cabbage can “gather up” and form a blockage. Remember….Ileostomies and Colostomies LOVE SLOP – lol. Ideally, you need to chew your food to a soft consistency BEFORE you swallow, and with every mouthful. Quite a feat when you are hungry, but the horrific alternative of a blockage is well worth the effort to chew well. One of my best purchases was my NINJA, which PULVERISES vegetables and fruit to a smoothie consistency, and they taste wonderful!! Hundreds of recipes available online. Juicers are okaaaay…but you don’t get all the goodness of veg and fruit from a juicer, as you do with a blender. You get your essential vitamins and nutrients by using a blender, as the food you use is uncooked!!

    I studied medicine at University until I had to give it up due to my Crohns illness, which started when I was 17. I wanted to be a Surgeon, strangely enough….so I could have been performing Ostomies myself, but it was, sadly, not to be.

    I hope the above helps someone.

  6. Stephanie

    I didn’t have your calmness with my first blockage. (The first one on my own at least- I had two different ones in the days immediately following my illeostomy surgery). I woke in the middle of the night with the bag about to explode with liquid contents. I emptied it, and within the hour, I had to empty it again 4 times. I could see through it at that point. I had already began to get the familiar horrible cramping and pains like I did while I was in the hospital and had an obstruction. I then began projectile vomiting. I woke my mom, and got her to drive me to the ER. It was around midnight, and I was so scared, and I hated to call and wake my surgeon. I knew I would at least need the IV fluids. I had no idea at all that that was the way my body would respond to a blockage. When I had the complications immediately after surgery, I had still been NPO, so I didn’t notice the output being so much then. Now that I know what to expect, I should not be so scary the next time it happens. I found out that I can no longer eat lettuce with my ileostomy. Bad way to find out… but I had no idea it would do that to me. After about 12 hours I felt fine again. I did however had to be transferred to a larger hospital (the one where I had my surgeries at) because my local ER was confused while looking at my CT results. I had had a muscle flap procedure performed to close a huge wound I had left from my proctocohlectomy, and they were mistaking the piece of muscle for a cyst or tumor. So for two days I thought I had a mass. But… I will save that story for another day!!


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