10 reasons why I love my urostomy pouch
The other day I received my valued copy of the Urostomy Association Journal and was perusing the contents page when I spotted the title of an article. "Ha! That looks like something I might write," I said to myself. I duly turned to page 40 and saw my own face staring up at me. "Ha again!" I said to the dogs. "This explains it. I did write it."
In fairness to my senior moment it has been a few months since I wrote that but I still felt a prize idiot. So as a penance (and also to share it with you as I don't believe the Urostomy Association Journal has an online presence yet) here it is...
10 REASONS WHY I LOVE MY UROSTOMY POUCH
By Suzan St Maur
I know that many people with stomas prefer a very sensitive and private approach to dealing with them, but during my whole journey through bladder cancer (plus a short detour into unrelated breast cancer along the way) I’ve found that openness and humour have helped me – and quite a few others – to deal with the trials and tribulations.
That’s one of the reasons why back in 2005 when I had been dealing with bladder cancer for 2 years and then was diagnosed with the breast tumour, I started my online “blog,” Cancer Comic Strip.
The other reason why that came about was because around the same time a good friend of mine with metastatic colon cancer, who had been given three months to live some 5 years earlier and is still going strong today, called me to complain that there were no good cancer-related jokes on the internet so get on and provide some. Off I went and did it. Check it out if you want some chuckles! (NB: I do NOT sell advertising space, sorry stoma product retailers - it’s non-commercial.)
The Big Chop: an inevitable next step
Anyway after more or less keeping the bladder cancer under control across 7 years of TURBTs, BCG instillations, BCG and Interferon instillations etc. etc. my consultant finally said words to the effect of “let’s cut the cr*p and get your bladder our before the cancer decides to go walkabout.” I had a radical cystectomy with formation of ileal conduit in May 2010 and am now the proud wearer of a wee bag.
I remember sitting on the loo in the hospital the morning of the operation and thinking, “this is the last time I will pee in the conventional manner.” An historical milestone! At the time I was a little apprehensive of how things would work out. But now, 6 months later (as I write this) I am counting my blessings. Here’s why...
1.Having had the RC and knowing that the cancer had not even infiltrated the muscle wall, chances of it having spread beyond my bladder are pretty small.
2.As my consultant whipped out my “girlie bits” at the same time as my bladder I know that I can’t get ovarian, cervical or endometrial cancer. (Useful as I’ve had breast cancer already.)
3.The lymph nodes taken out all tested negative, and I’m assured I won’t get lymphaedema in my nether regions in the same way as I have in the mastectomy-side arm.
4.Six months post-surgery my conduit is working well and my kidneys show up as normal size on ultrasound.
5.I’ve only experienced two leaks since using a pouch – on both occasions the pouch had been applied by a stoma nurse. This is something my local stoma girls do not find in the slightest bit amusing, especially when I remind them of it.
6.Never again will I have to sit on some dubious seat in an even more dubious ladies’ room, because now I empty into the toilet bowl from a safe distance.
7.I now pee like a man, standing facing the back wall of a toilet cubicle. This is a source of much fascination for anyone weird enough to peer under the partition, seeing a lady going wee-wees with her feet pointing in the wrong direction.
8.If my pouch becomes full while I’m driving along a country lane, I merely pull over into a gateway, hide behind the car, and empty it. If I’m helping at a horse show (regular hobby) I don’t have to walk through half a mile of mud to use the horrible portable toilets; I just go behind a bush.
9.If my pouch becomes full while I’m sat in a traffic jam I know I should have a nightbag to keep in the car, but in the meantime I just use an empty Coke bottle.
10.Wearing a pouch sure beats the hell out of dealing with the pain, burning and other discomfort associated with “conservative” bladder cancer treatments.
Can anyone else add some reasons to be grateful for the wee bag? I’m sure I’ve left some out...
Suzan St Maur is a freelance writing coach & editor, as well as being the author of over 20 nonfiction books of her own on a variety of topics. You can catch up with her latest ways of helping you write better at HowToWriteBetter.net