The Final Catheter?




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I’m home, with a catheter I didn’t want. It doesn’t have a bag, instead, there’s a tap, which, at will, I can empty my bladder – in theory. In reality, it appears a bit different. I turn the tap nothing comes out. I do need a pee though, so I try. This was weird and a little frightening. Remember I hadn’t peed for about 6 weeks. Well, who knew? I’m peeing, but with a catheter on. The problem is, I’m busting so I’m peeing more than the narrow catheter can manage, so it’s “overspilling”. Oh God, this isn’t a good turn of events. I decide not to panic. I am peeing, my bladder is emptying. This is good.

Google; It doesn’t seem to be a common thing. I read that if nothing is coming out of the catheter, get yourself to A&E and pretty bloody sharpish. I know the nursing staff had trouble getting the catheter to work in hospital, I really don’t want to go through that again. I’ll leave it a few days, maybe it’ll sort itself out, I hope.

After a few days, I decide to book an appointment with my GP to discuss. I can’t get an appointment for 3 weeks. Oh great. They suggest if I’m “worried” I go to A&E. This is neither an Accident or an Emergency. I ring the Urology department, I’m waiting for an appointment to have it removed anyway. They have my referral but no appointment yet, they suggest if I’m worried, go to A&E. Hmm. I don’t want to burden A&E, but my real reason is I don’t want to be pulled about again.

I do eventually get an appointment to have the catheter removed. But it isn’t as simple as that, of course, it isn’t. I need to have the catheter removed and then prove I can pee before I can go home. My appointment is at 09:00. I arrive and go to the waiting room.

It’s a small room with chairs all around the room against each wall. There are about 15 men, all drinking cups of water. They are all waiting to pee.

“Graham Bell?” I’m called, this is to have the catheter removed. I follow the nurse to a small room with a bed in it. I remove trousers and pants, yep, I’m an old pro now. Leaving my shoes and socks on, I a classy kind of guy.

Now, different nurses use different tactics. My favourite one is the cough, not only does it take your mind off it, the coughing seems to help the exit of said catheter.

“Take a deep breath please”

I took a deep breath and do what I always do. Look at the ceiling and wiggle my toes about. In 5 seconds I’m free. It always surprises me how little pain you get. I get dressed and stand up. I’m handed a sheet of paper and a pen. I’m instructed to drink 6 cups of water, coffee, anything really and make a note of the times I drink. Then, when I pee, make a note of the time and pee into a rather odd-shaped cardboard vessel, with measurements up the side. Write down the time and the amount. Once I’ve peed twice, report to the nurse.

I go back to the waiting room which is still full of men drinking water. I sit there, drink my first cup. After my second cup, I’m not having any urges to go, so I decided to get up and walk around. It’s a grey, cold and slightly drizzly day. There’s a coffee shop, I have a coffee.

I walk around for another 30 minutes. Oh hang on. Is that a twinge from the God of urine herself? I think it is. Nope, it’s gone. Oh it’s back. I head back to the waiting room and head to the toilet, grab a cupboard vessel and stand looking over the toilet waiting.

Come on, just relax. All you’ve got to do is go for a pee. Nope, I can’t do it, I’ll have to have the catheter again.

“How do I normally pee?” I say to myself. I went through the mental process of having a pee. “We get an urge then just relax and it starts to….”

Oh, look, wee. There’s urine following into the cardboard measuring thing this is fantastic. No, don’t tense up! I stay relaxed. 250ml BOOM! I’ve honestly never been happier. It didn’t even hurt! I make a note of the time and the amount and go and get another cup of water. Whilst I wait someone else comes back from the loo, I hear him say he’d peed 500ml. Jesus, I only managed 250ml.

I leave the building and walk around the car park, and the other buildings. It’s an old hospital that used to have wards but now I think it’s mainly day units. Plenty of free parking too. About 30 minutes passes… Oh, whats that twinge. I can’t need to go again surely? I slowly make my way back. Then I speed up a little bit. Return to the toilet, grab a cardboard thingy. Relax….

BOOM. 250ml! Get in. Or rather, get out!

I’ve been twice. “Once your been twice and passed a good amount speak to the nurse”, I read on the form. I seak out a nurse.

“Nurse, I’ve been twice, is 250ml a good amount?”

“Oh yes, wonderful aren’t you clever”. This wasn’t said at all in a patronising way, she seemed really pleased and I was chuffed. “Right, let’s get that bladder scanned”

I wait for 20 mins. “Nurse, bladder scan?”

“Oh sorry, I forgot.” I have my bladder scanned. There’s still over 250ml in my bladder. The nurse explains anything over 200ml and they recommend a catheter again. My world has caved in.

“Have you heard of self-catheterisation?” she asks.

“I haven’t but I can guess what it is”, I reply.

“It’s not as bad as it sounds, you put the catheter in at night, before bed, drain the bladder off, remove it and go to sleep. It’s ok, I’ll show you how to do it.”

I’m actually in a state of shock. I was gutted when I needed it leaving hospital, now, I just can’t get my head around it. My tubes might still be swollen. I’m told as I seem sensible, I can take the risk and if I hit issues go to A&E. Think, think, what can I do, I need to get our of this situation.

“I feel like I can pee more,” I said, in desperation to the nurse, half expecting her to smile and reach for the catheter. But she didn’t, she was really kind and understanding.

“Ok, if you go now and come straight back I’ll rescan”, she said. Here’s my big chance one last push….

I was very grateful and might have offered to marry her (I didn’t that was a joke). I went to the toilet, I didn’t need to measure this one.

“Just go to the fucking toilet”, I instructed myself, maybe rather too loudly (excuse the language, I was stressed). I did go, quite a bit too. I rushed back to the scan room, basically pushing my way through to the front.

The nurse was ready with the ultrasound machine and scanned. “Perfect 100ml”, she said. I almost burst into tears, I wouldn’t have been happier if she’d told me I’d won the lottery. Here’s the thing – perspective. Nothing is more important than your health!

“I’m free to go?” I ask.

“You’re free to go. Oh and if your wee starts to smell of fish, go to the doctors, you’ll have an infection” And there ladies and gentlemen I lost all dignity. Haha. A 25-year-old nurse telling me to go to the doctors if my wee smelt of fish. Great. But I was so happy I didn’t give a shit. I thanked the staff and went to the car, in case they changed their minds!

I can’t begin to tell you how good it is not to have the catheter. Actually I could begin, but I’d never finish. Here I sit, less than a week later, sleeping all night, peeing about every 4 hours. I get a little pain when peeing but it’s nothing and will go after a few weeks.

I really feel now that my recovery has started. I’d like to thank everyone for their kindness and support, both reading my blogs and putting up with my constant bladder related tweets!

I’ve had at least a dozen people contact me saying that either they or their partners has booked an appointment with their Doctor to get things checkout out and for me, that’s marvellously gratifying. Certainly, make the vlog and blogs worth doing.

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