What is Intermittent Self-Catheterisation?
It is the process of using a tube inserted into the bladder to empty the bladder of urine when the body is not able to do this naturally. A tube (catheter) is inserted into the urethra along which it can be passed into the bladder. Once the catheter reaches the bladder and passes the sphincter, gravity takes over and the fluid will flow through the catheter and out of the body.
As you may see from the, not very good quality, picture; the catheter is a long thin tube which can be inserted into the urethra.
As I am a male, I can only speak from the male point of view on this delicate subject. I know most men are horrified at the idea of sticking a tube up their little man, as was I. But, in reality, it really isn't that bad. The catheters I am using are LoFric® Primo™ single-use hydrophilic catheters from Astra Tech which have a unique surface coating called Urotonic Surface Technology. This makes the saline level of the surface the same as that of the urine providing a smooth surface that makes much more comfortable to use.
So what does it feel like? It is not painful, it is a little uncomfortable but that is all. Apparently, the trick is not to be too hesitant when inserting the catheter. It nips a little to begin with. I find it actually nips more when withdrawing the catheter. Compared with an Endoscopy, this is a breeze.
I need to use a catheter because my bladder is not fully emptying of it's own volition. This leaves me feeling like I, permanently, need to urinate and can increase the risk of UTI's (Urinary Tract Infections).
Where the urethra enters the bladder is the sphincter which can be thought of as a valve or tap which can be opened and closed to allow or prevent urine discharge. The urethra runs up inside the penis.
I believe that, in Multiple Sclerosis, the nerve signals fail to travel to and from the brain. In this instance while the bladder should signal the brain that it is full and the brain should then make you attempt to urinate at which point the brain signals the sphincter to open allowing the bladder to discharge. If one or other of these signals fail, the whole process falls apart.
I was amused by a friend's reaction, and quaint turn of phrase, when I told him about catheters. He said, with horror "You don't have to put it up your Jap's Eye do you?". This from a six foot, 18 stone bouncer.
9th January 2007 I experienced an unfortunate incident at the weekend. I catheterised as normal on Sunday morning, but it went wrong somehow. I only passed a small amount of urine and when I withdrew the catheter I experienced a sharp pain, followed by bleeding from my urethra. Oh dear! what have I done? The bleeding stopped quite quickly and I only lost a small quantity of blood. Two hours later I passed water without the catheter and passed several blood clots. Subsequent passing of water appeared to be free of blood. Monday morning I telephoned my MS nurse to seek advice. She advised me to consult my GP and to refrain from catheterising until I had done so. I saw my GP this morning and he instructed me to catheterise, carefully, and contact him immediately if there were any problems and he would refer me to a urologist. I have just catheterised without incident, so hopefully the panic is over.
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