A Marriage of Inconvenience

One of the hardest pieces of information to process from the initial conversation with the surgeon, was the piece about the catheters. Yes, feel free to head in the direction of my vagina with five of your closest surgical friends, but if you could just leave everything as you found it (minus the diverticulum), that would be great.

What do you mean they’ll be something left behind?

“You’ll have two, they will be there for a minimum of six weeks post surgery, but it’s possible you’ll have them for up to twelve weeks”.

I didn’t say a word. I was tying to work out the logistics of two.

I only had one hole to wee from. Or did I? Had I missed something?

Has anyone got a hand mirror?

I had to ask, I didn’t understand.

“Two? Is one for poo?”

Please, please, don’t let one be for poo.

She smiled. She does that, she smiles at my idiocy. A patting of the head smile. An oh aren’t you sweet smile. Look what we’ve got here – a moron.

“One will be suprapubic, it will be in your lower abdomen, the other will be in your urethra” the second one is in case of emergency. If one gets a kink or a block, the second one will jump in. We can’t afford to have the slightest bit of urine go through your urethra, the wound won’t heal”.

There was to be no negotiation. This was a relationship I was entering into unwillingly, an arranged but short marriage between my body an outside invader. Harden up, deal with it.

I would love this next paragraph to be about me being a grown up and understanding that there are many people in the world with much bigger problems than two catheters – but I’m not.  It wasn’t just the logistics of how it all worked, or the grossness of carrying my wee around on the outside of my body rather than the inside. It was, well, everything.

How would I exercise? What would I wear? How do you accessorize a piece of tubing protruding from your abdomen? With a bold lip and an animal print scarf? What if they had to be around for longer than six weeks and were still here at the beach over summer? No beach, no bathers, no swimming, no baths (I love a good bath). Christmas with a catheter. I could hear the little travellers “why can’t Mum come to the beach?”.

Friends rang with reassurances. “You’ll hardly notice them, they’ll be strapped to each thigh, no-one will know they’re there”.

It is now screamingly obvious that none of these friends has ever had a catheter.

There is nothing inconspicuous about wearing a catheter. If you’ve ever tried to disguise the girth of your thighs, imagine adding some tubing, a couple of valves and a plastic bag to the equation. Anything tight has to be removed from your wardrobe. Best you put those jeans, tights, linen pants and shorts away. And forget about anything slightly see through. Go long, go dark, go heavy. Did you see that? I just became a catheter fashion blogger.

My marriage of inconvenience is on day six. And although we’re yet to go public with our relationship, we’re managing through the getting to know each other phase nicely. I have embraced the Maxi dress, and developed a fascination with the colour of my wee. I’ve done weirder things in other relationships.

And although I’m not particularly keen on my two new friends, they are far too needy for my liking; I’m okay with sticking together for another five weeks. I have to be, I hate being a grown up.

  • http://www.kylieladd.com.au/ Kylie L

    A cathether for poo! I am trying to envisage how wide that would have to be… but stopping now.

    Whine away. That sounds awful, and awfully inconvenient. Maxi dresses are definitely your friend. You could smuggle a dwarf in many of them and no-one would notice, so your two pouches will be fine. Good luck getting through it, my friend xx

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02278850983558455546 Yvette Vignando

      I second everything that Kylie says…well maybe not the dwarf bit… but good planning on your part as it is the season for maxi dresses xx

  • http://carlyfindlay.blogspot.com/ Carly Findlay

    Oh this made me laugh. Sometimes I am so grateful my illness is on the outside.
    Get well soon x

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13515751323226994005 Jess

    I had the same for 6 weeks last year and no, it’s wasn’t fun but I managed along with a lot of whinging and many new maxi dresses that I could not bear to ever even look at again. It is all worth it in the end but still sucks. It is all gets uncomfortable down below get some numbing cream. Relieves the irritation!

    You can swim, just your continence advisor for a valve that you can switch off and unplug the bag from for a little while. I did Bali with my bag, including white water rafting! Wondered what the cleaning thought of my overnight bags hanging up to dry in the bathroom and strapped to the bed! Good luck, you will be fine. Remember to whinge..lots….

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15026987107815016616 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

      Did you have one or two? I was told no swimming, no baths. Did you have one in your tummy as well. I am fascinated that you went white water rafting!!! I’m post 5 hours of surgery so not really allowed to do anything strenuous but am SO impressed that you just got on with it. I need to know more about the valve – why has no-one mentioned the valve?!

      Thanks for your comment Jess, and thanks for the permission to whinge xx

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13515751323226994005 Jess

    Second time around a year later, I was so pissed off with the bag that I asked to be trained to self catheterise. 4 times a day. Even at work. Now there’s a lifetime skill to have !

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15026987107815016616 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

      I’m not allowed to self catheterize (too worried I’ll further damage my urethra which is where I’ve had the surgery) I never thought I’d say this but I am so jealous of self cathertising people!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13515751323226994005 Jess

    I only had the one, fortunately. I did fall to bits emotionally over the first few days and was very sorry for myself. Then I realised it was only temporary, some people had to do this forever. Pulled on my big girl panties, sucked up the miseries and just got on with it cos nothing was going to change it. Being sad about it

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13515751323226994005 Jess

    Sorry, stupid iPad. Being sad about it changed nothing and made me a horrible person to be around. By the end of 6 weeks I was superwoman, dealing with all this and teaching Kindy all day. I had ovarian

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13515751323226994005 Jess

    Argh!!! Sorry. Ovarian cyst surgery which then made m bladder stop working, so there was no urethra damage. Hence the self catheterisation. You will manage this. Promise xxx

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15026987107815016616 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

      I feel the same way Jess, the nurse who came to see me at home mentioned that she also had a patient nearby who’d become a paraplegic at 16. That’s when I realized 6 – 12 weeks was a shedload different than a lifetime of bags, belts and valves. I imagine I can’t have a valve because of the suprapubic catheter, as the tube comes out of my abdomen (so so gross). I can’t imagine how you taught kindy?! I am drinking mammoth amounts of water as I’m terrified of infection, but of course mammoth amounts of water means mammoth amounts of bag changes. Up, down, up, down. I’ve loved your comments, very helpful to hear about someone else who has done the same thing and come out the other side. xx

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02190695242707409677 Nikki @ Styling You

    I love that you still have a sense of humour about this – and you know what? I think lots of people would like to know what they can wear! The flowing maxi seems the go x

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12099758957492165428 Wanderlust

    A catheter fashion blogger. That gave me a laugh. I’m sorry you have to suffer through this, but glad the surgery went okay. BTW, I already wear maxi-dresses all the time. I am so prepared should I ever be faced with such an inconvenient relationship.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09334181966209041832 Corinne – Daze of My Life

    One of my most stylish, glam friends now has to wear a colostomy bag for life. The way she’s dealt with it and the clothes she manages to wear astounds me, she hasn’t let it hold her back at all.

    The next 6-12 weeks will go by quickly! Good luck with your recovery.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10437498511254202582 Sarah-Jane

    Wishing you a speedy divorce in your marriage of inconvenience ;-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03623997911568143459 MsCaroline

    You’re almost one week down and still haven’t lost your sense of humor! Praying the next FIVE go very quickly and hoping that will be the end of it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07285709209953730580 Fraudster

    Well done. Ditto speedy recovery. Cheers.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14794655013673748992 River

    I’m crossing my fingers for six weeks instead of twelve, but even if you need the twelve, it will be over quickly.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03127111575563904349 JO

    My brother had a colostomy bag for 8 months – and hated every day of it. Then they put it all back in – it had saved his life. You don’t have to like it – it’s fine to rage and spit and weep – but you know you have to do it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01023787854786251105 aussiemama

    I had to wear one for the week after our daughter was born – who knew my bladder was attached to my womb?????? One week with a new born to learn to feed was horrid. I couldn’t get in/out of bed easily or quickly when she cried, felt uncomfortable when visitors came to see us. Wore the loosest, ugliest baggy pants and tops to hide it …… wish i had the sense of maturity that you do and dealt with it better. And to Jess – along with Kirsty, you are my new hero! x