These two issues seem to be quite common amongst us ostomates, luckily I have not had any serious problems with either, but do know the start of both.
Some people do end up back in hospital with both, so I can’t stress how important they can be on our health. I also don’t want to scare people, it is just worth knowing how to help yourself in these situations.
Lets start with dehydration.
Because the water in our stools doesn’t get re-absorbed by the large bowel (either we don’t have one at all, or only some of the large bowel, or even that the bowel is there, but not attached for now) this means that we lose a lot of fluid through the small bowel and we can become dehydrated. The first few symptoms are light headedness, fatigue,dark coloured urine, dry mouth ,skin, eyes. Pinch your skin to see if it “tents”, this could mean you are dehydrated. You can buy dioralyte ,or similar at most chemists, Boots do their own brand which is exactly the same. These solutions help to replace lost salts quicker than drinking water/juice.
Obviously try and drink more, I have always struggled to drink the recommended 2 litres a day, but seem to manage on 1.5 most days. If you still feel unwell it is best to contact your stoma nurse or GP as some people do need to be admitted for intravenous fluids. Be careful with alcohol, not saying don’t drink, but drink plenty of water in between. (If in doubt ask your GP as I am only giving advise from my point of view, and am in no way a health professional). You can get leaflets and information from stoma support sites too, and I have joined a few forums for new ideas, not just about dehydration but a huge range of topics.
I had an episode of dehydration and had an overnight stay i hospital for intravenous fluids and decided to find an app on my phone that could monitor my fluid intake and remind me when I should be drinking. I found a great one for me which you can tailor to your needs.
Blockages can be very painful but there are a few things you can do to try and ease the blockage out.
It might start with you noticing less or no output from your pouch. Your stoma may also look swollen. You may have a painful cramping in your tummy and generally feel off. It can lead to vomiting so you need to be careful not to leave it too late to speak to your doctor or stoma nurse. They can tell you exactly what to do. Firstly stop eating solid food , and have a soak in a nice warm bath if possible to relax muscles. You can gently massage around the stoma to see if you can help ease the blockage out. The nearest I have come to a blockage is, pain behind my stoma, very watery stool because some of the fluid gets through but not the more solid stuff, and a general feeling of being off colour .I drink more as you can also get dehydrated with a blockage. Whatever you feel, it is wise to call a health professional if it doesn’t get better fairly quickly. Do NOT take a laxative.
Both these conditions can make you feel unwell but you know yourself and your body, so don’t delay in getting help when you think you can’t manage whats happening. We have a lot of support now from the internet, forums,support groups, stoma and healthcare professionals, don’t be embarrassed to ask about things, all these people have been through it before or know someone who has.