On 20th June 2018 I was fitted with a suprapubic catheter and began my future with a catheter.
One year on, it continues to be a life-changing tool which has given me a new lease of life and indepence.
Of course, it hasn’t been all plain sailing and has had it’s fair share of minor complications.
My first catheter change, 10 weeks after my fitting, was a success but rather uncomfortable. 12 weeks later, I had another successful change.
But on my third change in February 2019, the complications began. The district nurse who attended appeared to be in her 60s and using a walking stick. On her arrival I was already having doubts. She took a while setting up and then when the procedure began, the complication started. Usually the nurse is supposed to do an immediate change; take the old catheter out and instantly replace with the new one. However, on this occasion there was a 10 second delay between the swap and I felt pain when she tried inserting the new one. After a few attempts, the nurse called her colleague for assistance but they were unavailable and advised to call an ambulance. This is because te longer the catheter is out, the suprapubic hole will close up.
An hour later I was on rout to A&E in an ambulance (with no blue lights flashing I’m afraid). Once in A&E I had to wait 30 minutes on the gurney before a bed became available.
I then spent another half hour or so waiting in a cubical. Eventually, a nurse arrived to come and try inserting a new catheter. She set everything up then as soon as she pulled the blanket from me she discovered it was suprapubic catheter and not a urethra catheter and explained she couldn’t do suprapubic catheters. This was frustrating considering the paramedics clearly stated suprapubic in the handover. Therefore they had to get a consultant from urology to come fit it instead. They eventually did but it still bloody hurt!
A month later, a very unexpected incident occurred. I woke up to discover the balloon had deflated and my catheter had come out. I think it was caused by a bladder spasm. I contacted the district nurses but they said they had no nurses available and to call an ambulance. I called 999 (for the first time in my life) and explained the situation.
Yet again, an hour later I was on route to A&E in an ambulance. Luckily this time I didn’t have to wait in A&E very long and they sent me straight up to the urology ward.
I met with the consultant who treated me in A&E the previous time and he attempted to insert a new catheter. Unfortunately the hole had become so small it was too difficult and painful to insert it.
I asked what the next step would be and they said I would probably need to return to surgery to make a new hole. I was under the impression this would be in a week or two but then they said it could be three months. They offered a urethra catheter in the meantime but I explained I can’t use them because they continuously come out when I’m having bowel movements. I was refusing to wait 3 months because it would mean wetting myself in incontinence pads several times a day and I have several plans over that period.
The consultant brought his boss along and he suggest doing an ultrasound scan on my bladder to see how much water was in there. He then offered to try inserting the catheter again. This time he did successfully insert it but it was agonisingly painful.
Since then, I had another catheter change 8 weeks later by the district nurses and thankfully a successful one.
Another issue I’ve had it on some occasions I feel the urge to pee and get cramps in my tummy. Plus sometimes I do actually pee and wet my clothes. I went to the GP and they prescribed me Oxybutynin. However, after a few weeks, I kept getting constipated from them. For a while the urge to pee subsided but recently it has occurred again but haven’t gone back to my GP yet. Can anyone suggest another medicine or treatment that could prevent the urge to pee?
Apart from these minor complications, the suprapubic catheter has been a life-line and still the best decision I’ve ever made. And as a bonus I’ve gone all year without getting a urine infection!
Have you got a catheter or considering a catheter? Share your thoughts, questions and experiences in the comments box or on social media.
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