This year started off terribly with Ryan being hospitalized in the ICU with a life-threatening infection (in both kidneys). Within a few weeks, he developed another urinary tract infection that was unrelated to the earlier (thank goodness). He kicked that infection easily, but the antibiotics wreaked havoc on his stomach and bowels. For ten days it was messy.
I was showering or hand-washing him half a dozen times daily.
The washing machine simply could not keep up with the soiled laundry.
The combination of an antibiotic-induced rash and constant cleaning made his groin and bottom raw and bloody.
As for the month of March so far, Ryan is physically healthy. The rash is (mostly) gone and likely would have been by now but, for some reason(s), the urinary external/condom catheter simply won’t stay in place for longer than several hours. I’m diligent about checking it (every 30 minutes) and applying a new one as necessary, but it’s just impossible to know when he might urinate… and it only takes once to saturate his clothing, sling, and wheelchair.
Sure, I’ll get to the bottom of why this is happening, but it’s a process of elimination involving multiple variables because something as simple as peeing involves a system for him. I’ve already eliminated most: the soap we use to clean him, the spray to protect his skin, the size/shape/elasticity of the external catheter, the urinary bag, the pH of his urine (breaking down the catheter’s adhesion), and many other flippin’ things that might cause failure.
After all that, I do have a theory that just occurred to me this morning.
Ryan’s core body temperature is anything but “normal”. Just one more thing that brain injury impacts. For him, having a 98.6 degree (Fahrenheit) is high. His baseline is range is 96.1 to 97.1 degrees… and it is common for him to drop as low as 95.0 or go as high as 97.5. Truth is, we must constantly regulate his external environment with heating lamps, warmed blankets, fans, and whole-house temperature so that he doesn’t become hypo- or hyperthermic.
Anyhow, ever since his hospitalized infection, he is almost always colder than was the case before. Now, I know that many believe that a man’s penis has a mind of its own, but when it comes to temperature it adjusts relatively. The colder it is, the more it (and the scrotum) tightens up to the body and decreases surface area. Some might remember the sitcom Seinfeld did an entire episode on this… appropriately called “Shrinkage”.
I’ll be picking up a hot water bottle (and protective sleeve) tonight to use on Ryan.
I’m sure you can guess what it’ll be sitting on.