Friday, August 14, 2009

Myeloma transplant - Diarrhoea

Anyone I spoke to who has had a myeloma stem cell transplant had a story and warning about diarrhoea and they were right. Transplant diarrhoea is a bit like sex, you have to experience it to believe it.
High dose treatment including melphalan can cause damage to the lining of your bowel wall. Symptoms include cramping, bloating, wind and diarrhoea.
My diarrhoea started on day 4 and it wasn’t until day 18 that I noticed I was getting back to normal. There were still loose motions, the bowels were not so rumbling and there was more time between motions. In between transplant days 4 and 18 I experienced a rumbling tummy, lots of wind and continual diarrhoea. There was no control over the diarrhoea, once it started it was anytime anywhere, even a cough or a laugh was enough for a movement.
Pay particular attention to hygiene down there where the sun does not shine, the bum can become sore. I found baby wipes were less abrasive than conventional toilet paper. Your hospital may have an approved wipe, ask, it’s your bum not there’s.
My transplant unit had bidets which gave another option for good hygiene.
When my bum did get tender I asked the nurses to have a look for rash or broken skin and to apply a barrier cream.
During my second transplant I had an arm in a sling and that combined with myeloma pain made it difficult to get out of bed in a hurry so I was given incontinence pads, a marvellous invention. Again I paid particular attention to hygiene and changed the pads regularly. The nurses helped all that. At first I found that difficult, a loss of independence. One of the nurses gave me a good nurse to patient talk about what their role was, accept that there were things I could not do and to let others do it for me, that was their job. Another lesson on life learnt that day.

Final comment, transplant diarrhoea: It will happen, pay particular attention to hygiene, think positive, and think of it as the cancer leaving your body.

This is one of “part 2” a series of postings relating to my autologous stem cell transplant for myeloma. As they are complete the posting series can be found under labels/part 2 [Part 2 link.]

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