Have you ever wondered how I do it when I have to answer the call of nature? The above are the devices that I use when I need to empty my bladder. There is the kidney dish, a tube of KY Jelly and a catheter. I seldom leave home without them. Although I can micturate the normal way, it was recommended by the urologist that I should empty my bladder every four hours to prevent a reflux. A reflux is when the urine flows back into the kidneys from the bladder. The pressure from the backflow will damage the kidneys. A majority of those with spinal cord injury suffer the same problem if they have a spastic bladder.
I have been doing what is known as intermittent catheterisation since 1991, five times a day without fail. Every four hours, I lubricate the catheter with KY Jelly and insert it into my bladder through the urethra. The catheter is long latex tube with one rounded edge and eyes on both sides much like the eye of a sewing needle. That is for draining the urine. The other end is a flared opening where the urine comes out and collected in the kidney dish. After I have completely drained my bladder of urine, I remove the catheter, wash it and keep it for the next use. One catheter can last up to four weeks after which it has to be discarded. The catheter I use is called a foley catheter or balloon catheter.
If there is a need to keep the catheter inserted for a period of time, the balloon inside the catheter is expanded by injecting distilled water, usually 30ml, through a valve by the side of the flared end. The enlarged balloon will prevent the catheter from slipping out. For indwelling catheterisation, the flared end is attached to a urine bag.
Intermittent catheterisation has become ritual I practise every day without fail. It has kept my kidneys relatively healthy up to now. Some damage is bound to happen. I hope that with a proper diet, intermittent catheterisation, medication and routine medical check-up, my kidneys will last for many more years.
* This entry was posted at Bloggers are Morons for Blogathon 2005.