Tuesday, 26 March 2019

SO! A Catheter was required next!

Indwelling urinary catheter

What are Catheters and how could they affect my life?

As I said in my last post, before my Chemotherapy Treatment Started, due to the treatment delay while the Stoma operation took place, the "Bowel Cancer" spread to my Liver (Still "Bowel Cancer" not Liver Cancer) and my "Lymph Glands" were also affected by the Bowel Cancer and, as a result I've had a catheter inserted (to ensure the urine is removed) because the swollen "Lymph Glands" had prevented urination.

"A urinary catheter is basically a flexible tube used to empty an individuals bladder and collect urine in a drainage bag."

Once the Catheter was put in place, my Chemotherapy would be able to start.

As expected my Urinary Catheter was inserted by a Doctor and has been replaced, every 12 weeks, by a District Nurse.

My urethral catheter was inserted through the tube that carries urine out of the bladder (urethra); there is another type called a Suprapubic Catheter which I'm informed is inserted via a small opening made in an individuals lower tummy.

Both types of catheter usually remain in the bladder, allowing urine to flow through it and into a drainage bag.

"I've given my drainage bag the nickname - Weasel and, I forgot to tell you that the nickname for my Stoma bag was/is - Donald."
They, both Weasel & Donald, occupy quite a lot of attention! 

When are urinary catheters likely to be used?

Usually used when individuals have difficulty urinating naturally. 

In my particular case it was to allow urine to drain as the swollen Lymph Glands, possible prostate enlargement and the Bowel Cancer Tumour (a swelling, generally without inflammation, caused by an abnormal growth of tissue, whether benign or malignant) were causing an obstruction in the urethra.

They can also be used to empty the bladder before or after surgery and to help perform certain tests.

Depending on the type of catheter you may have and why it's being used, the catheter may be removed after a few minutes, hours or days, or it may be needed for the long term.

As I've already said, mine is changed every 12 weeks.

Types of urinary catheter

Apparently there are several different types of urinary catheter, which are inserted and used in different ways.

NOTE: Again from my experience of having my Catheter inserted/re-newed, it is a painful experience.

Those who have done the changes have all said the pain was probably due to the Bowel Cancer Tumour and/or a swollen Prostate Gland (Prostate enlargement is a very common condition associated with ageing. More than 1 in 3 of all men over 50 will have some symptoms of prostate enlargement.)

Again, from the information I've had, it's not known why the prostate gets bigger as you get older, but it is not caused by cancer and does not increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.

An enlarged prostate can put pressure on the urethra, which can affect how you urinate.

Signs of an enlarged prostate can include:

  • difficulty starting or stopping urinating
  • a weak flow of urine
  • straining when peeing
  • feeling like you're not able to fully empty your bladder
  • prolonged dribbling after you've finished peeing
  • needing to pee more frequently or more suddenly
  • waking up frequently during the night to pee 

So, back to the Types of Urinary catheter...

1: Intermittent urinary catheters - inserted several times a day, for just long enough to drain your bladder, and then removed.

2: Indwelling urinary catheters - inserted in the same way as an intermittent catheter, but the catheter is left in place.

"This is the one I have!"

The catheter is held in the bladder by a water-filled balloon, which prevents it falling out. These types of catheters are often known as "Foley catheters".

Urine is drained through a tube connected to a collection bag, which can either be strapped to the inside of your leg or attached to a stand on the floor.

My Indwelling catheter is fitted with a valve. 

The valve can be opened to allow urine to be drained into a toilet, and closed to allow the bladder to fill with urine until drainage is convenient.

NOTE: Individuals should empty the bag before it's completely full (around half to three-quarters full). Valves should be used to drain urine at regular intervals throughout the day to prevent urine building up in the bladder. 

"I also have to change my Leg bags and valves every seven days (Thursdays)."

The bag itself can be attached to either your right or left leg, depending on which side is most comfortable for you. I find it varies so swap when appropriate.

At night, I need to attach a larger bag. 

It can be attached to your leg bag or to the catheter valve and placed on a stand next to your bed (mine is), near the floor, to collect urine as you sleep.

Depending on the type of night bag you have, it may need to be thrown away, as mine is, in the morning or it may be emptied, cleaned and reused for up to a week.

The catheter itself needs to be removed and replaced at least every three months (as I've said mine is every 12 weeks). 

Mine is done by a District Nurse.

3: Suprapubic catheters - used when the urethra is damaged or blocked, or when someone is unable to use an intermittent catheter

Rather than being inserted through your urethra, the catheter is inserted through a hole in your abdomen and then directly into your bladder. This procedure can be carried out under general anaesthetic, epidural anaesthetic or local anaesthetic.

This type of catheter is usually changed every six to eight weeks.

Looking After your Catheter...

Take it from me, it’s possible to live a relatively normal life with a long-term urinary catheter, but it took some getting used to at first.

Our District Nurse gave me detailed advice about looking after my catheter, albeit some time after it was inserted.

More recently my District Nurse...

..."realised the Catheter used initially, was oversized and the likely the main reason why I find the change of My Catheter so painful."

"LOOKS LIKE THEY USED WHAT THEY HAD rather than what was appropriate.

Next change, 11 weeks time, she will reduce the Catheter Size - PHEW!

I was provided with a supply of catheter equipment when I left Hospital, and also told where to get supplies from. 

In my particular case, Bullens - https://www.bullens.com/ - dedicated home delivery service provides all of my Stoma and urology products and prescription medication in one delivery, efficiently and discreetly to my door.

Preventing infections and other complications

Having a long-term urinary catheter increases the risk of developing urinary tract infections (UTIs), and can also lead to other problems, such as blockages.

To minimise these risks you should...

  • wash the skin in the area where the catheter enters your body with mild soap and water at least twice a day
  • wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after touching your catheter equipment
  • make sure you stay well hydrated – you should aim to drink enough fluids so that your urine stays pale
  • avoid constipation – staying hydrated can help with this, as can eating high-fibre foods, such as fruit and vegetables and wholegrain foods
  • avoid having kinks in the catheter and make sure any urine collection bags are kept below the level of your bladder at all times

My regular activities...

Having a urinary catheter shouldn’t stop you from doing most of your normal activities. 

"The Indwelling catheters, like mine, can be more problematic"

Risks and potential problems...

The main problems caused by urinary catheters are infections in the urethra, bladder or, less commonly, the kidneys. 

These types of infection are known as urinary tract infections (UTIs) and usually need to be treated with antibiotics.

You can get a UTI from either short- or long-term catheter use, however, the longer a catheter is used, the greater the risk of infection. 

This is why it's important that catheters are inserted correctly, maintained properly, and only used for as long as necessary.

Catheters can also sometimes lead to other problems, such as...

  • bladder spasms (similar to stomach cramps), leakages, blockages, and damage to the urethra.

Hopefully, with this post, along with the previous ones posted, I've raised your awareness of what individuals may experience if, like me, they get "Bowel Cancer", have a Stoma Operation and an Indwelling urinary catheter inserted.

"Please feel free to provide feedback on my post."

If you have any questions, feel free to ask, I'll do my best to provide honest answers.

Thank you! 

Thursday, 21 March 2019

What are Stomas, colostomy bags and how could they affect my life?

As I said in my last post, I've had a "Stoma operation" as there was concern that my large intestine would get blocked by my Colo rectal Cancer (CRC)...

...also known as Bowel Cancer and Colon Cancer; it is the development of cancer from the colon or rectum (parts of the large intestine). 

How common is Colo Rectal Cancer (CRC)?

Bowel cancer, also known as Colo Rectal Cancer (CRC), is the fourth most common cancer in the UK. 
"In 2015, 43,178 cases of bowel cancer were diagnosed" 
Colo rectal (large bowel) cancer is the second most common cancer
after lung cancer, in terms of both incidence and mortality, in England. 

"Although prostate cancer is more common in men andbreast cancer more common in women, Colo rectal cancer affects bothsexes."
It's an abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body.

"I realised, after the operation, that the colostomy bags didn't control me or define who I am"

There's also a real life link to my past! 

My Granddad 'Hub' Pettit (a Farmer in Chevington, West Suffolk) also had a Colostomy Operation

His Colostomy bag, nothing like mine!

"Yes, I know most don't want to talk about the operation or the effects it has on them, mainly because it can all be embarrassing."

However “This is me” and, as always, I think it important to raise awareness by answering these questions...

  1. What is a Colostomy bag
  2. What is it used for, and 
  3. How does it affect a patient’s (or for this post My...) life?

1: What is a Colostomy?

A Colostomy is a surgical procedure. 

During my Colostomy, surgeons divert one end of the large intestine into a visible opening – known as a Stoma – situated on my abdomen.

A small pouch, or Colostomy bag...

...is then placed over the Stoma to collect waste products that would normally pass through my rectum and anus in the toilet.

Take a look at the video at https://www.youtube.com/embed/T26Jik0ToZs

2: When is a colostomy bag needed?

Colostomies - and resulting Colostomy bags - are used to help me, and/or other patients who have problems with their Colons.

Diseases which can lead to a person having a colostomy include...

  • Bowel cancer (this applies to me), 
  • IBDs such as Crohn’s and Colitis, and 
  • Diverticulitis.

By diverting waste away, the Colostomy bag can allow irritated or inflamed areas of the Colon to heal.

"In my case it was to ensure that if my Bowel Cancer Tumour got to large and blocked my Colon the waste could still be removed."

3: Are they permanent?

It depended on me and/or on other patients. 

A Colostomy can be permanent or temporary. The NHS estimates that around 6,400 permanent colostomies are carried out each year in the UK.

4: What is it like to live with a colostomy bag?

Cancer, surgery & treatment are hard enough to deal with; an Colostomy/Ostomy (changes the way stools exits the body as a result of a surgical procedure). 

Having an Colostomy/Ostomy sometimes increase the anxiety, fear & shame that some, with Colo Rectal Cancer, feel.

In general we don't think much about "natural" body functions (bowel movements) until they are to be changed or disrupted.

Having the equipment can be different from person to person - both in how long it is needed and how it affects an individual’s quality of life.

“Some patients say that having a Colostomy/Ostomy is a very very tough decision, but they also feel they’ve got their life back because they’ve been so ill for so long. Others say “goodness me it has transformed my life because I don’t want to go out and talk to people, I worry about malfunctioning.”

In my particular case, I felt I had little choice, as a bowel obstruction is a serious complication, which is much more common with advanced Cancer;  I had to to proceed as the alternative wasn't a realistic option.

The surgery wouldn't cure my Cancer, however it did relieve the symptoms that I had, within my lower Colon

Unfortunately, no one can tell beforehand how much individuals would benefit from an operation to unblock their bowel.

If you have to go through this, you should take steps to prevent yourself from being overwhelmed right from the beginning. 

Consider talking through having this operation with...

"If you're having problems adjusting, ask yourself why and discuss these issues with the Colostomy/Ostomy specialist and/or surgeon."
Such meetings bring you closer to independently caring for your Colostomy/Ostomy.

NOTE: From my experience, the psychological & physical adjustment to the new Colostomy/Ostomy, doesn't occur overnight.

As I discovered, My Bowel Cancer seems to have effected my family and friends more than me and they need support agencies as well.

5: What are the basic things you need to know, if you are going to have a Stoma operation?

a) those of us who have Colostomies usually need to empty the bag 2 to 3 times a day.

b) Ostomy appliances come in all different shapes and sizes for a personalised fit.

c) Initially, you, like I had to, may have to cut the opening on the adhesive face-plate to fit exactly around the Stoma and reduce the risk of leakage & skin irritation.

d) Various skin protections & cleaning materials are provided to prep an individual's skin.

e) My Stoma bags are coloured and opaque, hiding their contents. You may find you get clear plastic ones, hardly hiding any content.

f) I'm retired, but for those in work, the choice to continue working with a Stoma is a personal decision.

With the possible exception of jobs requiring very heavy lifting, a Colostomy should not interfere with work.

People with Colostomies are successful business people, teachers, carpenters, welders, etc.

g) Clothing - Depending on Stoma location usually one is able to wear similar clothing as before surgery including swimwear.

In my case, I lost 5 Stone in weight, over a very short period of time; resulting in a new wardrobe of clothes.

h) Sports and activities: With a securely attached pouch one can swim and participate in practically all types of sports.

Caution is advised in heavy body contact sports and a guard or belt can be worn for protection. 

Travel is not restricted in any way and bathing and showering may be done with or without the pouch in place.

6: In my particular case, due to the treatment delay while the Stoma operation took place, the "Bowel Cancer" had spread to my Liver (Still "Bowel Cancer" not "Liver Cancer"),

My "Lymph Glands" were also affected by the Bowel Cancer and, as a result I've had a Catheter inserted (to ensure the urine is removed) because the swollen "Lymph Glands" were preventing urination.

Once in place, the Stoma and the Catheter I mean, My Chemotherapy could start.

Hopefully, with this second post, I've raised your awareness of what individuals may experience if, like me, they have a "Colostomy"

"Please feel free to provide feedback on my post."

If you have any questions, feel free to ask, I'll do my best to provide honest answers.

Thank you! 

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Where I am NOW!

PICC Line for taking bloods & Chemotherapy
For those of you who follow my Social Media, you'll realise that I've been raising awareness of my experience of "Bowel Cancer".

From the feedback I've had, the knowledge I've gained since my diagnosis and my subsequent Chemotherapy has inspired others to share their experiences.

"Without the cancer, I wouldn't be where I am now."

It appears that at least half of those diagnosed with cancer cope with the disease, in my case "Bowel Cancer", solely with the help of our own personal community.

Destiny is in My Hands...

Being diagnosed with Bowel Cancer was a shock that hit me hard, but to be honest, it hit my family harder than it hit me. 

I spent many hours reflecting, questioning etc. The main question...

...was it due to me?

Was it because of me...

1: smoking all those years ago?

I'm sure most of you won't link "Bowel Cancer" with "Smoking" but, the toxic cigarette smoke does not only cause lung cancer but many other kinds of tumors as well. 

YES smoking is the most frequent self-imposed cause for cancer, but not the only one.

2: being overweight? research shows a significant increases cancer risk

Obesity is second place of cancer-causing agents. It causes cancer as enhanced insulin levels increase the risk of almost all sorts of cancer, especially when it comes to kidney, gall bladder, and oesophagus cancer. 

Not an issue for me, but overweight women produce increasing amounts of female sex hormones in their fat tissue and hence have a higher risk for uterine or breast cancer.

3: being a couch potato?

I don't think that would be a cause for me as we, My better half and me, are/were quite active, even more so since retirement.

However people who don't move enough are especially likely to get cancer. 
Long-term studies show that exercising prevents tumors. 

After all, working out lowers the insulin levels while preventing you from gaining weight and it doesn’t have to be high-performance sport. Even just going for a walk or a bike ride makes a big difference.

4: drinking too much?

Unlikely, but alcohol promotes tumors in the oral cavity, the throat and the oesophagus. 

The combination of smoking and drinking is especially dangerous and increases the risk of cancer up to a hundredfold. 

Apparently While dinking one glass of wine a day is healthy and supports the cardiovascular system, we shouldn’t drink more than that.

5: eating too much red meat?

Again I don't think so, as we have a very balanced diet.

Red meat can however cause intestinal/bowel cancer, so I may be wrong. 

Looks like the exact cause has not yet been determined, but long-term studies show a significant correlation between the consumption of red meat and intestinal cancer. 

Beef is especially dangerous, but even pork can cause cancer to a minor degree. Meat consumption increases the risk of cancer one and a half times. 

Fish, however, prevents cancer.

6: having lots of BBQs?

Again, I don't think we have that many BBQs.

However when barbecuing meat, carcinogenic substances are released, such as polycyclical aromatic hydrocarbons. 

It's been proven in animal experiments that these chemical compounds can cause tumours. 

However, long-term studies with humans have not yet unambiguously proven the same. 

It’s possible that consuming the meat causes cancer, not the way it is prepared.

7: eating lots of fast foods?

A good diet consisting of vegetables, fruits and dietary fibers can prevent cancer. 

However, when conducting long-term studies researchers found that a healthy diet has less impact on cancer prevention than previously assumed. 

In our case, we seldom have "Fast Foods" and it only decreases the risk of getting cancer by a maximum of 10 percent.

8: getting too much sun?

Yes too much sun is harmful and we've been subjected to more sunshine since visiting California where some of our Dalziel Family have settled down.

The sun’s UV radiation can penetrate genomes and change them. 

While sunscreen protects the skin from sunburn, the skin absorbs too much radiation as soon as it starts getting tanned.

9: getting my "Bowel Cancer", triggered by modern medicine?

Well, unless it was the treatment I had for the "Blood Clot", two and a haf years ago, I doubt it; however X-rays do harm genomes. 

With an ordinary radiogram the exposure is only minor, but it’s a different story for computed tomography, which you should only undergo when necessary. 

Magnetic resonance imaging is harmless but did you know that you’re even exposed to cancer-causing radiation when you’re on an air-plane?

10: triggering the "Bowel Cancer" due infections?

Unlikely again, why?

Hepatitis B and C can cause hepatocytes to degenerate. 

The bacterium helicobacter pylori settles in your stomach and can cause stomach cancer, but not all hope isn't lost as I can get vaccinated against many of these pathogens and antibiotics help fight helicobacter pylori.

Let's face it!

Even if I've done everything right, I'd never completely be immune from getting cancer. 

"At least half of all cancer cases are caused by the wrong genes or simply age."

As you can see on the image of "How many cases can be prevented?"...

...there are several factors possible, which hopefully I've provided more information about earlier. 

The Factors include...
1: Red Meat 
2: Over weight 
3: Unbalanced Diet 
4: Alcohol
5: Smoking
6: Inactivity
7: Infections and
8: Ionising Radiation.

Enough, I feel, of me looking for why I got "Bowel Cancer"

When it comes to coping with the disease, attitudes matter and it appears as if...

"Some people are tormented by heavy feelings of guilt because they believe that the cancer would not have developed if their attitudes to life had been different."

My conclusion
"If I had something to do with the fact that I've got "Bowel Cancer", then I can turn it around." 

I see my diagnosis of "Bowel Cancer" as an opportunity to review my attitude towards my life.

To treat or not to treat? That was a very important question that I had to answer.

Apparently many refuse chemotherapy and radiation, saying they're sure they're going to die anyway and what’s the point of undergoing therapies with drastic side effects?

Personally, I thought...

"I'm prepared to try anything to prolong my life!"


1: I've had a "Stoma operation"...

...as there was concern that my large intestine would get blocked by the growing tumour.

2: due to the treatment delay, the "Bowel Cancer" has spread to my Liver (Still "Bowel Cancer" not Liver Cancer),

3: My "Lymph Glands" have been affected by the Bowel Cancer and, as a result I've had a catheter inserted...

...(to ensure the urine is removed) because the swollen "Lymph Gland" prevented urination.

4: after 6 weeks of Chemo treatment, some good news. A scan shows the Tumour has reduced in size, the Liver infection reduced and the "Lymph Gland" aren't as swollen!

I'm continuing to complete the 12 sessions of Chemotherapy and hope the progress is at least as good as the first half of my treatment.

Many of you indicate that you're interested in the "Side-Effects" of the "Bowel Cancer" Chemotherapy.

From what I understand it varies from person to person.

In my case, during the 6 weeks of Chemotherapy...

1: ...the side-effects have increased and lasted longer; Dr O'Hagan decided to give me a weeks break before continuing the Chemotherapy again on 28th February 2019.

This delay was kicked in again on the 14th February 2019 due mainly to the rash on my legs, shortness of breath & tiredness.

My next Chemotherapy is planned for 21st March 2019; everything crossed it goes ahead.

2: other side-effects include...

a) breathlessness when doing initial movements e.g. going upstairs

b) tiredness - increases between Chemo-treatments, starting the Tuesday after Chemo &, over time, has gone from a couple of days up to 10 days after my last Chemotherapy.

c) "Split-ends" on my finger tips & feet...

...(on my feet it's heels mainly). Dr O'Hagan's assistant considered removing part of the Chemotherapy treatment to prevent permanent loss of feelings in finger tips.

Decision yet to be made, in the mean-time, I've used a "spray-plaster"...

...which has helped a lot by protecting the splits and increasing the healing rate.

d) "dry-skin", rashes on lower legs in particular.

Very tender with "lines" that look like scratches, under the skin.

Pliazon cream...

is helping the rashes & Aveeno...

helping with dry skin.

Again,the intensity of rashes/dry-skin has increased as the Chemotherapy progresses.

I've also seen my Local-GP who has given me Fluucloxacillin (Antibiotic) to be taken four times a day an hour before food or on an empty stomach.

"WOW! the almost immediate effect was/is staggering - rash & redness both reduced.

e) "appetite & taste": - initially my appetite wasn't great after Chemotherapy, resulting in weight loss of over 5 stone.

My mouth becomes very sensitive to some foods/drinks that I'd normally eat/drink e.g. spicy curry / other spicy meals; sauces, HP brown in particular but tomato as well;salty foods e.g. crisps; onion chutney and other pickles;

I'm not eating more (adapting to needs), e.g. having 3 meals a day (didn't usually have breakfast) & weight has stabilised, in fact increased slightly.

I'm finding some menus that are more enjoyable and have a taste.

f) Sensitivity:- after Chemotherapy, and for about 24 hrs,  my skin, finger-tips and mouth become exceptionally sensitive; it always feels as if there is a very fine rain when I go outside  and when I have a drink, my mouth feels as if it's filling up with bubbles; not that unpleasant but a very odd feeling.

g) Swollen-ankles:- left leg in particular (the leg the blood-clot started in 2.5 years ago) but, to be fair, after the last Chemotherapy it's the right-leg.

Combined with the leg-rashes , it's made it difficult to put on socks; that is until I purchased some Cosyfeet - https://www.cosyfeet.com/socks - socks that have made things easier.

h) Dry-skin:- using cream to help but elbows, knees & ankles in particular are ve4ry dry, tender & showing, what looks like splits under the surface of my skin.

i) Diarrhoea:- as some of you will already be aware, I've a Stoma...

...as the Bowel-Cancer tumour potentially could have blocked the colon.

A few days after Chemotherapy, diarrhoea kicks in; not a big problem but it can fill the bag very Quickly.

j) Catheter:- just had it "renewed". Due to swollen Lymph-glands, urine was collecting in my bladder but not leaving my body via the usual urination.

A Catheter was fitted (Very painfully) to solve the problem.

It did and, as a result, Chemotherapy could start, which was good news for me.

"During the change of My Catheter concern was expressed that it was too large."

Apparently, in 12 weeks it will be replaced by an appropriate size Catheter tube; the process then, being less painful and more efficient.

I don't think I've missed any Chemotherapy side effects, if I have,...

I'll share with you what the side-effects are!

For now, I'll share symptoms that indicate...
"You could have Bowel Cancer, do not ignore!"

Bowel Cancer...

  1. may begin as polyps in the digestive tract, often beginning as non-cancerous groups of cells. Over time, they become cancerous and can be deadly.
  2.  is the third most common type of cancer.
  3. warning signs to be aware of that may indicate you have Bowel Cancer

1: Constipation or diarrhoea - A change in an individuals typical stool habits or the consistency of the stool is something they should keep an eye out for. 
Constipation or diarrhoea may be the first sign of Bowel Cancer.

2: Bloody - As the polyps tear, blood gets deposited in an individuals stool, so if you see bloody stool, contact your doctor. 

3: Pencil stool - very thin, or "pencil stools," are another sign of something being wrong.

4: Cramps - If you suffer from cramps, gas or bloating that just won't go away, these could be signs of Bowel Cancer.

5: Fatigue - as is true with most forms of cancer, unexplained fatigue might be a warning sign

6: Weight loss - If individuals have a sudden weight loss that isn't from dieting and exercise, it's recommended they get checked out.

7: Full bowel - many people suffering from Bowel Cancer complain of feeling like they need to have a bowel movement, but can't. 

Some may have a movement, but even after that, they still feel like they need to do more.

8: Anemia - blood diverted to build Bowel Cancerous cells, result in having symptoms of anaemia without any explanation. Another warning sign.

9: Pelvic pain - when people reach a advanced stages of Bowel Cancer, they often complain of pelvic pain.


If things go to plan, on Wednesday (tomorrow) 20th March 2019, I'll be have my bloods done...

Followed, all being OK, by Chemotherapy on Thursday 21st March 2019.

Hopefully I've achieved the aim of this new blog "Yes! I've got Bowel Cancer and..." and I've raised your awareness of what individuals may experience if, like me, they get "Bowel Cancer"

"Please feel free to provide feedback on my post."

If you have any questions, feel free to ask, I'll do my best to provide honest answers.

Thank you!