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.