“Now… where to begin? Ah, yes. Concerning Catheters.”
Weird that Tolkein didn’t go with that version. In the aftermath of my surgery I was more than usually concerned by catheters. More than I ever had been before, in fact. Up to that point, I think that the most concerned I had been was trying not to look at somebody else’s catheter bag while visiting them in hospital. That was about to change. Overshare alert: I am about to talk about wee.
It is absolutely expected that when you wake up from this sort of surgery, you will have a catheter fitted. I don’t remember exactly when I first got out of bed after the op but I’m pretty sure it was at least 24 hours later, and even then only to sit in the chair next to the bed while it was being made. So I’m pleased that I was all hooked up or I could have been in a bit of an embarrassing situation.
I didn’t really notice the catheter to be honest because there was so much else going on anyway, and I was pressing the magic green pain-relief button quite regularly. My operation was on a Friday morning; on Monday they came and removed the catheter and said I would be going home later that day.
All I had to do was take a measuring jug with me to the toilet so they could measure how much wee came out, immediately followed by an ultrasound of my bladder to check the residual amount (how much was still in the tank). This will, no doubt, be familiar to anyone who has been catheterised for any reason. I didn’t really think it was going to be that simple though, did I? Well, yeah, for a minute, I kind of did.
Of course nobody told me what a ‘good’ result for the residual amount would be – and why would they? – so I wasn’t sure how far out I was on my first go. I do remember that I was terribly excited – how hard could it be? I’ve done this loads of times before, I’ve got this!! Home by lunchtime I reckon.
- In the jug: 250 ml
- In the tank: 400 ml
(All figures are approximate, but not a wild exaggeration).
The nurse looked a bit funny with 400 ml left. She pressed down a bit and asked if it made me feel like I needed the toilet. No, obviously, I just went! Wait, is that not good? Apparently not. Next time though, I’ll get it next time.
- In the jug: 350 ml
- In the tank: 480 ml
Okay, so now I knew from seeing this reading that it was Not Good. (Turns out that the magic number is less than 50 ml residual. Less than 50 ml!!! I was pretty far out.) Back to watching Game of Thrones and sipping endless water to rally for the next go. Come on.
- In the jug: 300 ml
- In the tank: 700 ml
WOAH!!! 700 + 300…. I had a LITRE of wee in my bladder!! Picturing a litre bottle of water that seems unlikely. It was such a big amount that I even felt the need to boast about it to any passing nurses – a whole litre!!! Well I never.
It wasn’t very funny really. I even asked them if I was doing something wrong. I had tried hard, and been so confident it wouldn’t be a problem! One of the lovely surgical team doctors came round and explained that they would need to re-catheterise me for at least a week. The nerves in my bladder had been damaged by the surgery (a very common and not serious thing), but it meant that I didn’t really know when I needed the toilet. Accidentally allowing that amount of liquid to stay in the tank would pretty much guarantee me a UTI.
So back it went. 900 ml came out straight away. The bladder of a baby elephant! Way too much urine (and way too much information)!! The nurses cheerfully reassured me that other ladies find a catheter very easy to manage at home.
But I wasn’t going to be going home quite yet.
Caroline Crimson x