Yesterday the doctors took me off the IV drips that were providing all the hydration that my body needed. These were originally prescribed so that I didn’t need to drink anything, avoiding an excess of fluid entering my bowel, irritating it, and causing the continued high output of my stoma. Of itself this didn’t resolve the problem, though in combination with the various drugs that I’m receiving, it’s clearly made a significant contribution.
However, IV drips are clearly not a long term solution, and yesterday was the moment of truth when control was passed back to me. So I’m now responsible for drinking again, and ensuring that I balance the fluids that I take in with the fluids that my body outputs. In time this will hopefully become pretty automatic again, but right now it’s a fairly manual process that involves me measuring and charting all my inputs and outputs (!) and seeing that they’re roughly balanced.
And at the end of yesterday night I’d done pretty well, at a gross level coming very close to fully balanced. However, I’d neglected to account for perspiration losses, for which I should apparently allow between 20 and 40ml/hour; so overall we estimate that I dehydrated myself by about half a litre.
While sat in hospital doing very little, and carefully monitoring myself this is simply resolved by drinking a couple of glasses of water. But it’s easy to see how this could become much more of an issue when a patient is working (perhaps physically) in a hot environment where there may not be ready access to drinks. And this is how many stoma patients get seriously dehydrated, and end up back in hospital as an emergency admission after collapsing, or starting to show early signs of severe renal problems.
As an excess of hydration is much easier for your body to deal with than a lack, expect in the future to see me carrying little bottles of water wherever I go.