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Belinda No Bg Square
My name is Belinda. I would describe myself as a personal assistant, singer and a caring, sensitive, friendly and happy person. Here is my cathing story...

 

Unfortunately, since I was young, bladder infections have also been a big part of my life.

I’ve been back and forward to doctors and hospitals, took tablets, had injections, was x-rayed and participating in various tests and surgeries. Eventually I was diagnosed with urinary retention (the cause is unknown). My bladder hasn’t been emptying properly for years, which was leading to the infections. I was shown a technique of pressing on my body to help more urine come out from my bladder.

The objective of cathing for me is to try and reduce my bladder infections, because emptying my bladder fully and regularly will stop urine stagnating and allowing bacteria to grow. I have also been told it might retrain my bladder muscle to work by itself again, but no guarantees.
I don’t like the idea of cathing much, but at the same time I feel optimistic about this simple opportunity to improve my situation and get rid of these endless infections!

Here are a few of my journal entries about my catheter experiences.

Training

Had my initial training today. I wanted to be brave but I was petrified, even though the nurse was very nice. I sat on the bed, undressed, legs astride, with a lamp and a mirror placed directly in front of me so that I could see.

The nurse asked me to point out where urine exited my body. To be honest I’d never looked before. The small star-shaped hole above my vaginal opening was almost invisible, but I got the answer right. I had found the urethral opening!

After cleaning and sterilizing my hands and genital area, I inserted the catheter. When the urine flowed into the hospital plastic kidney dish placed nearby, I felt elated. Overall it was not as bad as I expected.

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Trying it at home

Yesterday when I got home I tried cathing again on my own, setting myself up in a similar way as I had with the nurse. I sat on the floor on a blanket and leant against the sofa with a lamp and a mirror right in front of me, along with a plastic kidney dish very close by. I felt a bit of a ‘pinch’ and a twinge during the procedure and it was a little bit painful. The kidney dish nearly overflowed with urine too (yikes!). However, I am already feeling just a little more confident.

I know the way I’ve set myself up wouldn’t be practical anywhere else, but I’ve decided to take this one step at a time. At this early stage I don’t think it matters. I practiced this morning and evening too. It feels so intense, I’m glad I have the privacy of my house to help me concentrate. Practice and building confidence is my only focus for now.

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Keeping clean

I’m being extremely careful not to get a bladder infection from the catheter. My main focus is to be very clean and wash my hands with antibacterial handwash as the very last thing that I do before inserting the catheter into my body. I know my body is vulnerable and the catheter is a ‘foreign object’, so it’s worth the precautions and excessive hand washing – even though I feel like a surgeon scrubbing up before surgery!

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Standing up

Up until today I’ve practiced in the ‘unpractical’ way on the floor. But I know I need to decide on a new position that I can adopt on a long-term basis, something that can work in any toilet. So today I decided to give it a go….

I stuck a mirror onto the toilet seat using surgical tape. Next I removed my trousers and underwear and stood up, facing forward with both of my legs straddled either side of the toilet bowl (making sure that my legs didn’t touch any part of the toilet at all because of germs!). I placed my catheter and wipes on some toilet tissue and on a flat surface so that they didn’t fall off onto the floor. I had the light on so I could see everything clearly in the mirror below me.

I moved the skin apart so that I could see my urethra opening and inserted the catheter. It went well and I feel pleased to have overcome yet another new challenge.

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Creating a kit

I’ve been thinking about how to do this if I wasn’t at home and planned out a ‘kit’. I’ve ordered myself a little bag to pack everything in, so I’ll feel fully prepared when I am out and about or at work.

Having spares of everything was my first thought, spare hand soap is a necessity because there are definitely toilets that have run out of hand soap! I’m keeping my non-fragrances soap ends for this purpose. I’m also going to add antibacterial hand gel, wipes, some cotton wool and some lubricant.

Putting my kit together has helped me feel more calm and in control about the thought of cathing away from home.

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Things to avoid

Here’s what I have now learned about what not to do when cleaning myself:

Never use intimate washing products with perfume or alcohol in them because you can get a chemical irritant urinary tract infection from the perfume or alcohol.

Never use products that state they are for EXTERNAL USE ONLY (e.g. Anti-Bacterial Cleansing Wipe Alcohol Free). I have made all of these errors over the last few weeks. It’s not worth the risk.

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Learning about my options

I had an appointment at a hospital in order to discuss questions with an Incontinence Nurse. I came home with some different samples of catheters to try to see if I preferred others to my regular ones.

I also researched the different types of catheters that were produced for people in different situations (e.g. catheters that have urine collection bags attached to them so one can catheterise in bed with the bag).

I feel like I’m getting more comfortable with the cathing ‘world’ and am now able to look at my options and try out different things without feeling flustered or uncomfortable.

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