Mucus - File Under “Things That Make You Go Ugh”
If you have a neobladder, one of the new “normal” things the doctors will alert you to is “mucus” in your urine.
My basic understanding is that because the neobladder is constructed of ileum/bowel tissue, it will continue to try to do the job it was initially made for - helping digest food. Part of that process is secreting mucus. I’m assuming the mucus is to help with digestion or to help smooth the path for the digested material through the intestine. For whatever reason, the neobladder does what it does, and mucus is the output. And to make this even more attractive discussion, think of the mucus as having the consistency of thick snot but coming out of your urethra. Interesting experiences await!
What I experience with mucus
And we live with it.
Cuz we want to live.
It’s what us cancer people do. Yeah Us!
I had a large amount of mucus the other night, and I thought it might be helpful to share what I experience with “mucus,” what problems it causes, what causes it, etc.
So here’s the scientific answer of what causes mucus: No one really knows.
Afraid of blockage
Why is mucus a big deal? Well, at least for me and a few other newly-minted neobladderians (my word for those of us with neos) is the equipment won’t work. Since the neobladder creates mucus and it can be thick at times, we worry it will clog the pipes and we will have to self-catheterize. And if you read my post "The Ins and Outs of Catheterization", you know catheterization isn’t always the most enjoyable experience (not horrible but...you know). The point is, when we think about our neobladder, we want it to work as close to original equipment as possible. And that means a steady, uninterrupted stream of urine when we need it. Which is about every three to four hours.
Trying to figure out what increases or decreases mucus production
Our fear is when we head to the “head” (as the Navy folks say) nothing will come out and we’ll need to go find a catheter. Therefore, eliminating as much mucus as possible will reduce our always present fear of “failure to launch” if you know what I mean.
I have spent the better part of 7 years trying to figure out what increases or decreases mucus production. And I don’t have a solid answer for you.
What I have is “probabilities” and “possibilities.”
Based on my experience I can sometimes guess what might trigger higher mucus levels and what might not.
But the data makes no sense. It seems random. Which is why I said the scientific answer is “I dunno.”
My mucus checklist
I never in a million years thought I’d write that headline. But here we are.
Below is a discussion of what I think impacts my mucus levels. Remember, your mileage will vary. Also, if you read any discussion thread on the internet about mucus and neobladders, you’ll get causes that range from your star-sign (according to some people, water signs like Aquarians have little mucus) to gluten. BTW - when did gluten get to be the cause of 98% of all digestive issues? I think gluten is getting a bad rap.
But I digress. Here's my list of mucus makers...
Single malt scotch
The blends and other whiskeys don’t have the same effect as single malts do. Not sure why. Manhattans are neutral - no more, no less. But a couple of Lagvulins at night and within hours I can see a huge increase in the amount of mucus in my urine (and feel it as it exits...that is one weird feeling - no pain - just weird.)
Lack of hydration
See above. I am tempted to think that when I have a couple of drinks, I’m not drinking any other fluids so I’m not processing as much water making my urine more condensed. The less volume of liquid the higher the mucus/urine ratio which makes it more noticeable.
Working hard around the house
If I sweat a lot and try to stick to my 3-4 hour voiding schedule, I’ll notice a lot of mucus. Again...hydration is probably the real culprit. I could probably stretch the hours a bit and keep water handy.
LaCroix flavored water
I don’t know why (or if it really is the cause), but it seems when I binge on some LaCroix my mucus is up. Who knows.
Other notes for those interested in mucus and neobladders
Some folks will cite certain foods as culprits. I have yet to find a food that can drive mucus production by itself. Also, I’ve not seen any uptick (or downtick) in mucus based on medicines I may take for colds or other normal maladies. Although I’ve seen on message boards that some folks have seen a reduction in mucus when taking antihistamines. But again - talk to the doctor - we all know how intelligent the internet is (or isn’t.)
A very long post to tell you very little.
Mucus is a way of life for us neobladderians. And we manage what we can.
PS: Just for fun
This discussion of mucus always reminds me of a chapter in a book called “Divine Rights Trip, A Novel of the Counterculture.” Originally published in a serial-style on various pages in the “Last Whole Earth Catalog,” it is also available as a book. It’s a fun read especially if you are a hippie at heart.
Divine Rights Trip, A Novel of the Counterculture
From Wikipedia, the book “...chronicles the awakening of the hippie stoner Divine Right (alter ego of the main character D.R. Davenport) as he travels from Kentucky with his girlfriend Estelle across the country, in a patient and introspective 1963 VW Bus, Urge. Divine Right has no idea where he is or where he is going."
One of the chapters is focused on a discussion with a character who suggests eating walnuts will eliminate mucus. The chapter entitled “The Greek's First Rap” concerns a conspiracy to hook people “on mucus‐causing food as a means of keeping them in bondage and servitude.” Too funny. That’s my little Easter-egg today!
Have your views towards bladder removal changed since you were diagnosed?