Even though we’ve all been avoiding crowds, there are still ways to reach out to the ostomy community. The online meeting for the UCHealth Denver Support Group will be June 17 at 5:00 pm. They are transitioning to a new online platform, so contact UCH-Wound and Ostomy  for information.

Also, I’ve been in touch with the Ostomy Association of Northern Oklahoma. I follow the articles of one of their members, Bob Baumel. Their next Zoom meeting is this Saturday, the 13th, at 2:00 PM Central Time (1:00 our time). It will feature a presentation by Tom Dingler, Donna Sellers and Lauren Brown from ConvaTec.
Meeting ID: 834 3615 0408
Password: 321518
Time: Saturday, June 13, 2020 at 2:00 PM Central Time
One-click join link: Join Zoom Meeting

You may have heard of the very sad, and for many very upsetting, event last week in Great Britain. A young man who had received a temporary colostomy was needing a permanent ileostomy. He declared that he would rather die, petitioned the courts to allow that, and the courts agreed. He was also supported in his decision by his parents. There has been a good deal of conversation about this online, and Susan Burns, President of the UOAA, put out a statement. Here is the article from the Daily Mail. I realize how upsetting this is for many, but think that with the attention it has received that it’s important that people be informed. Here is Susan Burns’ statement:

Those of us with UOAA are alarmed and saddened to learn that a young man in intensive care in the United Kingdom was granted the right to die based on his past mental and physical struggles living with a temporary ostomy. In my own ostomy support group here in St. Louis a person once chose a similar dark fate by choosing to stop eating. The healing process and path to acceptance in life with an ostomy is too often filled with this feeling of hopelessness. We believe however that the majority of the 725,000 to 1 million people living with an ostomy in the United States and represented by our organization know that “Ostomies are Lifesavers” and have lived full and productive lives. With proper medical care and emotional support, there is nothing most of us living with an ostomy are not capable of doing. 
We must all do more to eliminate the stigma of living with an ostomy. Please join with the ostomy community by promoting ostomy awareness, especially on Ostomy Awareness Day on October 3, 2020 as we continue to shout the message that “Ostomies are Lifesavers.” We know that change is made through our national advocacy efforts, educational resources, events, online discussion and inspirational stories. Our over 315 Affiliated Support Groups offer emotional support and quality of life advice and are open to all. Join with us so nobody ever feels this lack of hope again.”

Speaking of Bob Baumel in Oklahoma — He recently published an article about ostomy supply expiration dates that I found really interesting:

Ostomy Product Expiration Dates
by Bob Baumel, Ostomy Association of North Central Oklahoma, June 2020

Many ostomy products include materials such as adhesives which degrade over time, and therefore have a limited shelf life. Product boxes usually include codes indicating both the manufacture date and expiration date. Here are examples from Hollister and Coloplast:

In the case of Hollister, the first two characters of the lot number (9J062 in this example) denote the year and month of manufacture. Here, “9” is the last digit of the year, presumably 2019 (It might also be 2009 or 1999 but, seeing this in 2020, we assume we aren’t dealing with product that old). “J” denotes the month of manufacture (where “A” is January, “B” is February, etc.), so this product was manufactured in October 2019. The expira- tion date in Year-Month format is shown next to an hourglass symbol; in this case, the product expires in October 2024. That’s 5 years after the manufacture date, so this product is marked as having a 5-year shelf life.

Coloplast labels display both the manufacture date and expiration date explicitly in international Year-Month-Day format, showing the manufacture date next to a symbol that represents a factory, and the expiration date next to an hourglass icon. In this case, the product was manufactured on April 18, 2019 and expires on April 17, 2021. Thus, this product is marked as having a 2-year shelf life.

ConvaTec labels may be marked using a variety of encoding schemes. Sometimes, mainly on newer products, the manufacture date and expiration date are both displayed. However, some ConvaTec labels display only a lot number (where the first two characters encode the year and month of manufacture in the same way as Hollister lot numbers). These labels may not display an expiration date at all. In these cases, the working assumption is to assume a 5-year shelf life, so the expiration date is 5 years after the manufacture date.

As an interesting observation, some products with newer skin barrier formulations have shorter shelf lives than earlier products. For example, Coloplast’s “Sensura Mio” skin barrier, used in all their newer pouching systems, has only a 2-year shelf life (the Coloplast label pictured above is from a box of Sensura Mio pouches). Hollister has traditionally had a 5-year shelf life for most products, as in the example pictured above, but I noticed that a box of Hollister pouches containing their newer “CeraPlus” skin barrier was marked as having only a 3-year shelf life.