Kidney Infections and Protecting Your Stoma
I've had my stoma for exactly one year today and up until two weeks ago, everything had gone smoothly. I had no issues at all. Then, I began to feel unwell.
Symptoms of a kidney infection
I started first of all feeling a little lethargic, then I started to get a dull aching pain in my lower back. Soon after I developed a temperature and began sweating profusely. I knew something wasn't right and had heard from fellow ostomates that these were the stereotypical symptoms of a kidney infection. I knew I needed to get a urine sample to my doctor as soon as possible.
Getting a urine sample
Now this would be the first time I had attempted to get a urine sample direct from my stoma. You "cannot" take a sample of urine direct from your "bag" as it will always test positive for infection due to a part of the bowel being used to make your stoma. So how was I going to get a sample? I needed to get the sample directly from my stoma.
So I drank about a pint of water. I waited around fifteen minutes and got a small plastic measuring jug that I had previously sterilized with boiling water and I headed to the bathroom. I removed my bag and got into the shower. I gently pressed around the stoma area and hey ho my little "Winnie" began to pee. The urine was collected directly into the jug and I could then pour into the sample bottle to take to the Doctors for "testing". I felt quite pleased with myself that I had got a "sample" with relative ease.
Stomach pains and nausea
I put the "sample" into my Doctors for analysis and would await the results in a couple of days time. It was a day later that I began to get terrible stomach pains and feelings of wanting to vomit. Now this feeling of sickness terrified me as I had as yet, never been ill whilst having a stoma. I had heard that you needed to be very careful not to "wrench" around the stoma area as this could cause a hernia. I began to think "what could I do to protect my little stoma?" if indeed I began to vomit. Well I did vomit and the pain around the stoma area was quite intense.
Using a hernia belt to support my stoma
Then I remembered right after my Cystectomy surgery I was advised by my stoma nurse to order a "hernia belt". This could be used if I wanted to do any lifting or in the event that I got a stomach upset or a bad cough, as this would provide comfort and support to my stoma. I immediately went to the wardrobe and pulled out the box containing the belt. It's a wide piece of stretchy, firm fabric that is adjustable in tightness and fastened with Velcro. From the moment I put it around my abdomen I felt my stoma was supported and protected. I would wear this for the next 2/3 days. I felt much "safer" wearing the hernia belt and it also helped lessen the stomach pain around the stoma area when vomiting.
Taking antibiotics to clear up my infection
The urine test results came back and I did indeed have a kidney infection. Antibiotics were issued and the infection cleared up in about a week. The use of the hernia belt did protect my stoma and I would highly recommend anyone with a stoma to purchase one, as you never know when you may need it.
Did you know that May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month?