” Look at this. It’s the newest one on the market” the lady at the counter says with much enthusiasm."
A different shopping experience
The thing about this particular shopping trip is that I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t know exactly what I should be looking for or what would fit me, I don’t even know the sizes.
The lady in the store wasn’t talking about a silk scarf or an accessory for a new dress. No, she was talking about a catheter. A disposable catheter. I had just come home from the hospital after my third operation for a disc prolapse. My first op was in 2011, and the other two occurred in 2017. After the last operation, I wasn’t able to empty my bladder properly and the solution was to catheterise.
The stitches in my back tightened a little and the beads of sweat on my forehead weren’t just because I was in pain. This was something new and I felt insecure about it.
Starting with catheterisation
At the hospital I was introduced to this therapy – catheterisation (ISC). A nurse came to my room – she had brochures, links to YouTube videos, a mirror and catheters with her. She sat down to explain the process and after that she said “I’m going to let you have some time alone now. I’ll leave this mirror here, so you can get a little more familiar with how things look 'down there', if you dare to look!”
Down there? I didn’t know what to say. I felt even more nervous than before because she made it feel like it was all very unpleasant. Did I have a choice if I didn’t “dare to look down there”? Not really. She left the room and I lay in the bed with lots of unanswered questions about self-catheterisation buzzing in my mind.
Luckily for me I live with a wheelchair user who uses catheters – Kissinger Deng. At our house, the catheters have their own place in the bathroom, and I knew that it didn’t cause any problems in his life, so I felt reassured that it wouldn't cause any for me either. But what about those who have no prior knowledge of self-catheterisation?
Being open makes it easier
I already knew the importance of good hygiene and that, even if it feels a bit challenging at first, it will get better. What made it a whole lot easier for me was that I didn’t have to explain catheterisation to my boyfriend as he already knows all there is to know about it. But it would have been okay anyway. I’m open about it with my family and friends too. For me it’s important to always be open about these sorts of things. I believe that it leads to less awkwardness when people know. And by sharing my story I hope that it removes the taboo around the matter.
I received a bag of catheters with a range of sizes, types and more brochures. I was relieved to go home and start trying everything out.
Look out for part 2 of this blog being released next week where Frida shares some helpful hints & tips!