From Doctor to Patient to Inventor
By Joseph Salisz, MD
At 51 years old, I was in great physical shape. I participated in outdoor sports, ran 3-4 times per week and exercised at the gym regularly. My family had a history of vascular illness related deaths including stroke, so I never completely ignored that "insider” information. During a routine check-up, my doctor recommended a standard colonoscopy and cholesterol tests. He added, "Since you're a Urologist, you probably should check your PSA!"
I received a shocking phone call a few days later. My first thought was that it might have to do with elevated cholesterol, but instead it was my PSA which turned out to be alarmingly high. Prostate biopsies revealed extensive cancer filling my prostate, invading into the base of my bladder. As a believer in surgery, I contracted with an aggressive surgeon who agreed to remove my prostate and bladder. Of course, this required alternative plumbing which meant a urostomy.
After having ostomy surgery in 2011, I was distressed by the red colored stoma and appliance on my side. In an effort to feel “normal” again I had to face the issues I was having and start finding solutions. How could I change out of street clothes into scrubs in the hospital or gym locker room without feeling self conscious? How could I exercise without worrying that my wafer and appliance would fall off? How could I feel confident during intimacy? How could I stop worrying?
My wife and I went on this journey together. Being a physician, we think we know what it’s like to be a patient. However, it wasn’t until I was left with a stoma that I began to understand the day-to-day challenges of living with an ostomy.
A few of the physical factors of the stoma and ostomy appliance were bothersome to me. I could smell the contents, even though my wife advised me that she couldn't. The perspiration which accumulated under the pouch against my skin was irritating which caused me to continuously check the appliance and clothing for leaks. The "scrunching noise" of the bag held me back from hugging. My wife helped me locate some online information sites for ostomates which led to the purchase of some really useful items, however I still couldn't find a pouch cover that addressed all my concerns.
I’m an avid outdoors-man and one of the activities I enjoy is hunting. A friend of mine invented a carbon impregnated camouflage clothing line that adsorbs human odors and helps hunters stay hidden. He assisted me in the development of a new ostomy product that resolved all of my concerns. Thanks to the team of Dr. Brian Stork, WOCN nurse Pat Camp, a manufacturer, marketer, seamstress, and textile company… we invented StomaCloak®.
StomaCloak® is a pouch cover that is breathable, therefore wicking away perspiration and moisture. The odor capture technology significantly reduces ostomy odors related to slight leaks. It is latex-free with a custom sized ring for a secure fit around one and two piece ostomy systems, and the carbon and antibacterial properties of the fabric inhibits bacteria growth.
Self-confidence is a quality of life issue. Life seems more precious to me and my family because of what I’ve been through with cancer and ostomy surgery. I still ski, run, hunt, and work full-time in Urology. I have a deeper understanding and empathy for people with illnesses, and I feel blessed with the unique opportunity to assist ostomy patients overseas with quality of life issues.
Making a positive difference in someone’s life is supposed to be what healthcare is all about. Our experience creating this product has taught us that when patients, physicians, nurses, innovators, and manufacturers come together, it’s possible to make a difference in the lives of ostomates.