Over the last few years something magnificent has happened! There has been a lot of coverage in the media lately about ‘Ostomy’s.’ Ostomates are people sharing their stories and fabulous pictures and proudly flashing their stoma bags. This warms my heart so much to know that the stigma surrounding stoma bags and Ostomy surgery is finally being addressed and changing the public’s perspective about stomas for the better; spreading a message of hope and acceptance to be proud of your stoma bags and that you can still live an amazing happy life with one!
However, I have noticed that the vast majority of blogs and articles talk about Ostomys in terms of a poo bag. My aims are to try and highlight having a Urostomy and educate the general public that Ostomy bags can also be because of bladder removal and contain urine.
Simply, a Urostomy is a urinary diversion where a new exit is created for the urine to collect into the Ostomy bag. There are numerous reasons for having a Urostomy but mainly they are due to a defect or problem where the bladder needs to be removed (called a Urostomy) or bypassed. This can be for cancer, neurological disorders of the bladder function and rare conditions. During the Urostomy surgery, roughly 10cm of the small bowel is removed to create a conduit where the Ureters from each kidney are disconnected from the bladder and carefully stitched to the piece of small bowel. This is then brought out through the abdomen and stitched to the outer surface, creating an exit for the urine. A Urostomy pouch is worn over the stoma at all times and emptied by a tap that is attached to the bag.
The Urostomy pouches look very similar to the Ileostomy and Colostomy pouches but instead they have a tap or bung at the bottom which allows urine to be emptied into the toilet when the pouch is full. The pouches are waterproof and odour proof and can come in one piece or as a two piece. A one piece is a pouch with the adhesive base plate sealed directly onto it and the whole pouch has to be changed each time (about every 1-3 days.) The two-piece system consists of an adhesive base plate on its own and a pouch that attaches to the base plate to collect the urine. This can be changed between 3 days to 5 days depending on how much disintegrating of the base plate there has been. They can be ordered in a pre-cut size if this makes it easier for you? During night-time a 2 litre bag can be attached to the pouch so there is no need to get up in the middle of the night and empty.
I feel blessed that I have both an Ileostomy (Bob) and a Urostomy (Squirt). I have learned so much more about myself and have been surprised with how much I have been able to cope with. Having Bob and Squirt has been for me like having two demanding children. They have taught me patience, perseverance and acceptance. At the end of the day they have both saved my life and I would not be here or the person I am today without them.
Watch this space for future Urostomy Awareness campaigns!