Gardener has 3 Tips for Those Living with Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS)

Gardener has 3 Tips for Those Living with Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS)

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On the website,  people living with the syndrome share their personal stories and experiences and give tips, tools, and advice to others living with short bowel syndrome (SBS). One of those stories is Cody’s and you can watch it here!

Cody explains how his short bowel syndrome started with one operation. Cody had to have an operation, for an ischemia, that left his intestines deprived of blood flow for seven days. After the operation, Cody assumed his life would go back to normal.

It did not work out that way though.

Cody was surprised to find that he was now “disabled.”  Cody gradually realized that he could not do the same things he used to, but gives several tips for making the most out of life with SBS.

Number 1: Come to terms with your situation

“I have a depressed immune system.” Cody states. He knows that he has a very weak immune system; it is his new reality, and he takes the necessary precautions for his new reality.

Cody recounts how he often used to go camping with no lighting or electricity. He cannot do that anymore. He also says that he does not swim and is afraid of going in the water for fear that microbes may get in his PICC line.

Number 2: Adjust to your new lifestyle

Cody uses a small battery operated proton pump every night without fail. It pumps for 10 hours with hour-long warm ups and ramp-downs, which means that he uses it for almost 12 hours a night to regulate his symptoms. He has to use it every night and although he wishes he could have an occasional break from using the pump, he accepts that, for now, his body currently requires the pump every night.

Number 3: Take little steps to make life easier and enjoyable!

Cody has less than four inches of short bowel and he has malabsorption which contributes to his chronic diarrhea. This means that Cody’s body does not absorb nutrients or calories very well. He misses chugging a bottle of water. Because water does not have the electrolytes or salts he needs, it will go right through him and send him “rushing to the toilet.” However, Cody encourages those with short bowel syndrome to take advantage of the small opportunities to make life easier.

Cody advises people to take advantage of the handicapped bathrooms for when an emergency hits.

“I am handicapped whether I look like it or not, sometimes you can’t make it up those stairs.” Cody says.

Cody also reminds those with short bowel syndrome to remember the small hobbies that make life enjoyable. Cody loves being outdoors and although he does not camp like he used to, he does keep a garden. He takes precautions as his doctor suggests and wears gloves to stay clean, but maintaining this small habit brings him a lot of joy.

“I have always had a garden and short bowel syndrome is not going to stop me from getting my hands dirty,” Cody says with determination.

So, how DO you enjoy gardening and minimize your risk for infection?

  • First and foremost, as Cody says, wear good gloves and long sleeves–don’t touch your face with dirty gloves and immediately wash your hands with soap and water after removing them; remember that infections can enter the body easily through pricks on the skin made by thorns (or any cut)
  • Use composted manure instead of raw manure –and it’s safest not to add manure to your home compost pile if your pile is small because it probably won’t get hot enough to kill potential germs
  • Don’t EVER add dog or cat feces to a compost pile
  • Promptly remove any animal droppings in your garden with a plastic bag (while wearing gloves)
  • Use a facemask when turning a compost pile, spending any time is a dusty shed, and clearing a new garden site

Click here for the full video at the short bowel support website.

If you want to learn more about SBS, visit one our partners: The Oley Foundation and Avery’s Angels.