Ali was suffering from urge incontinence and was given botulinum toxin injections to help. “It solved the problem of severe urge incontinence, but presented another,” she says. “I couldn’t void urine because it made everything tighten up so much. I didn’t want to use catheters, so I didn’t want the injections. That was when I hit rock bottom.”
Along with recurrent UTIs, episodes of leakages were becoming more common. “I was horrified I’d go to someone’s house on a job and sit on the sofa and leak.” The anxiety saw her become increasingly isolated from friends and family. Her cherished holidays and even day trips were becoming impossible.
"When you get to the point of no return, it's the only choice you have left. Then you think you've nothing left to lose. So, I decided it was time to start cathing."
Ali’s initial training to use an intermittent catheter was made easier because, as a nurse, she had a good understanding of the female anatomy. But the experience of being on the other side of the treatment table underlined the importance of the role a nurse plays – not just in teaching the physical aspects of catheterizing but caring for the emotional ones. “As a nurse, I’ve catheterized other people hundreds of times, but even for me, it was difficult to be doing it to myself in front of someone."
"The emotional side is such a huge part of catheterizing It's so important it's cared for and respected."
Over time, Ali says she has grown more confident in her ability to self-catheterise. Part of that improvement was finding GentleCath™ Glide, her current catheter. “Other catheters can look nice but are too small and difficult if, like me, you’ve got reduced dexterity in your hands. And other catheters had lots of sticky lubricant I didn’t like the feeling or idea of.”
For Ali, the ability to confidently self-catheterize has not just improved her continence and UTI problems but opened a new lease of life. “Looking back to our trip to the States, I can’t believe we did it,” she says.
“The knowledge and skills to empty my bladder has taken so much anxiety away. The big difference for me with self-catheterizing is, instead of your bladder having control of you, you can control it."
"It's empowering. I've gone from being a spectator back to being able to participate in life again."