Doctor: On each office visit over the years, we’ve taken a scan of your bladder to determine if you are retaining any urine. We’ve discovered the amount you’re retaining has increased to an unacceptable level.
Me: That’s probably not a good thing.
Doctor: No, it’s not – in fact, when your bladder retains urine it increases the chance of a nasty bladder infection or the possibility of a troublesome kidney problem. Believe me you don’t want either of those bad boys.
Me: Sounds serious – so I guess it’s time to change the medication again?
Doctor: I don’t think so. We’ve tried all the drugs available. Unfortunately, there is no medication that helps the bladder empty out. You’ll have to get rid of this excess MANUALLY, through use of a disposable CATHETER.
Me: You gotta be kidding! How do I manage that?
Doctor: On your way out today make an appointment with my nurse – she’ll show you what to do.
Me: Are you sure you read the scan right?
Doctor: Don’t be such a baby. (He didn’t really say that, but I know he was thinking it)
So three days later, there I am with Fran, my wife and super caregiver, back in the office talking with a nurse young enough to be one of my daughters and she’s keeping a straight face while demonstrating everything involved in self-catheterization. And I kept a straight face, which was especially challenging when she asked about what size catheter to start with. She must have noticed the confused look on my face; small? medium? large? (later I learned that catheter sizes start at 14” long and go up in length to around 19”). The nurse explained that since all you’re doing is draining the bladder, smaller is better – the less the likelihood of an obstruction. Definitely don’t want any obstructions, no sir!
I wasn’t prepared for the next part of the demonstration which by now seemed like a final exam I had to successfully complete to obtain a passing grade in “catheter class.” If you guessed I had to actually perform a catherization on myself right there in front of Fran and the nurse- you’d be right. There’s no need to get specific about what came next except to say that modesty and MSA are mutually exclusive. In other words, if a person successfully completes “catheter class” he or she must be prepared to surrender any remaining modesty and dignity.
My new, twice daily task really isn’t so bad after all. Just a few minutes each morning and at bedtime and I’m “good not to go” for several hours and I usually sleep the night thru.
Now if they could better prepare you for the final exam.