Usually I can handle things about my body and my health pretty well. I laugh and joke about all of my problems, and people that know me really well always fuss at me for it. They tell me, “Bonnie, this is serious stuff you’re talking about. You shouldn’t be joking about it. Your health should mean more to you than that.” To which I usually reply, “If I couldn’t laugh about it and joke about it, I would probably go crazy.”
All the stuff I go through with my artificial bladder I usually seem to handle fairly well if I have to say so myself. That is one area that I usually joke about the most so that I can handle all the problems that I have with it. After all, I have always heard that “Laughter is the best medicine.” That’s the main reason that I joke about it so much, is so that I can laugh about it. Well tonight, I totally lost it. For the past two weeks I have been dealing with the catheter leaking all around the stoma opening to the outside. This happens anywhere from one to three times a day. As matter of fact, I went through three changes of my night clothes just last night.
Well tonight has to be the worst that I have ever had it. Every night I have to instill medicine into the artificial bladder through the catheter and then “plug off, by putting an actual catheter plug into the catheter”, for a period of two hours to keep the infection under control to a degree. While I was plugged off tonight, I was at the computer going through all of my different social medias such as Twitter, Google +, and Facebook, as well as being on my WordPress site that I am on right now. All of a sudden I felt that all too familiar feeling that told me I was wet. I got up to go take care of the problem when it happened. I was in the bathroom getting ready to get on some dry clothes, and before I could even get the wet clothes off, my artificial bladder started emptying out its contents all over the place. As the floor was getting wetter and wetter, I started screaming to the top of my lungs. My first thought was that my artificial bladder had just ruptured and that I was going to have to be rushed to the hospital and go into emergency surgery for it. I was so scared I was getting hysterical and starting to hyperventilate. My friend came to see what was the matter, and kept trying to calm me down where I was crying so badly. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally was able to calm down. We called the doctor to see what I should do.
I have to go off in a slightly different direction right now to let you know what has been going on in the meantime for the last few months. There is an opening in my abdomen close to my navel where the catheter to the artificial bladder comes out. It is supposed to be just big enough for the catheter to be inserted into it and then the balloon to be inflated so it won’t fall back out. I had the surgery in November of 2000. The once small opening has expanded quite a bit from the catheter being in it 24/7/365. Most of the people that have to have this procedure done are able to do what is called an in-and-out-cath several times a day. Since I am diabetic, I didn’t heal correctly and therefore have ended up having to have a catheter in permanently. The catheter is then connected to a drainage bag where my artificial bladder drains constantly. I empty the bag several times a day. So that other people will not have to see the drainage bag full of urine, I put it in a cloth bag and strap it around my waist with a leather belt. That way, all that can be seen is some of the tubing. Well, just like the women who wear really heavy pierced earrings end up with the openings become elongated, the opening to my artificial bladder has done the same thing. There are plans to do reconstructive surgery on my artificial bladder. There is just one big catch, MY WEIGHT. Originally the doctors wanted me to get down to 230 pounds before they would do the surgery. Now I am supposed to get down to 200 pounds before they will do the surgery. I currently weigh 245 pounds, to give you some idea as to what I am up against. Of course, with me getting worse each day, I want the surgery to be done sooner than later. Obviously that isn’t going to happen.
I do have to tell you something very important though. There were other people that had the same surgery as I did in 2000. Unfortunately most of them passed away within the first two to three years. So I am somewhat of a miracle to even be alive. I have been told that there are volumes of information about me in the medical books, and that I am a study subject for many people in medical training, especially those going into the field of urology. I guess that’s why they want my weight to be lower now, considering my diabetes and my age, I’m 62. The lower weight will give me a better chance of surviving the surgery. I have been told that I will probably be in intensive care anywhere from three or four days up to a week and in the hospital three to four weeks after that, and that there is a good chance that I wouldn’t make it past three months after the surgery if I don’t lose the weight. Now back to tonight.
I have had to instill the medicine for around three years now, and have even been on home IV medications for over a year, just a year ago. Not once did the doctors bother to tell me that I wasn’t supposed to drink very much liquid, while I was plugged off with the medicine in my artificial bladder. Once the call to the doctor was returned, I was finally told what had happened tonight. He asked me if I had been drinking very much liquid while I was plugged off, to which I answered yes. He then went on to tell me that what had happened was that the liquid had drained off from my kidneys and collected in the artificial bladder where it built up pressure. With the catheter being plugged off and not connected to the drainage bag, the urine had no place to go. This is where the opening being elongated comes in. Well, with no other place to go, it started pouring out of the elongated opening around the catheter. As it turns out, the elongation was a blessing in disguise. Had the opening not been elongated, my bladder could have ruptured and I would have died within twenty-four hours from the infection going rampant in my abdominal cavity. Before the doctor returned the call, my friend finally got me coherent enough to convince me to hook back up to the drainage bag. Even after the urine just pouring out all over the bathroom floor, the bag filled up to 700 ml. A normal bladder is considered to be full when there is a total of 600 ml. That should give you some idea as to how full my artificial bladder actually was, and what could have been the end of me. There go the reason I became so hysterical. I honestly thought my artificial bladder had ruptured and within twenty-four hours I would be dead if the doctors couldn’t get me to surgery fast enough to clean all of the poison out of my abdominal cavity.
Well, several hours now since the BIG SCARE, everything is once again under control, and all of the soiled laundry from what is now last night, as well as the night before is being laundered in our laundry room, where they furnish three washers and dryers. Thankfully at no charge to the residents. It is almost 5:00AM and I still have about another hour to go before the wet clothes will be dry. I truly have to say “MY GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD!!!!!”