Not long ago I wrote a post about my ever frequent bladder infections. I wish I could tell you that things have changed for me. This summer I have been on a continuous low dose of antibiotics. No worries — I have been taking them over the medically recommended time. But every time I go off of them: WHAMO, I get another bladder infection. I understand that I cannot stay on them forever, though. In some rare cases there can be residual build-up from the antibiotics in my lungs. Not fun!
A while back, a reader of this blog recommended that I try changing catheters.
Thanks to my wonderful urologist’s assistant, I received several samples to “trial”. As I proceed with my tale, let me offer to you that I will refrain from naming brand names, lest I inadvertently offend anyone . . . . Write to me directly if you have questions about this post.
The catheter I have been using for some time now is simple and compact. I appreciate everything about it. But, I thought that I just needed to see if going off of it will curb my bladder infections.
The first catheter I tried I have nick-named the “Wet Noodle”. It is designed with a built-in water sack; the catheter is lubricated when you pop the water sack. After the water is dispersed evenly, the catheter is lubricated, which I might add can’t be rushed because if it is rushed the catheter is more like sandpaper than silky smooth. Then, time for insertion.
Here is the problem with the “Wet Noodle”: I need to man-handle the slippery fish to find relief (for my bladder). In comparison, the part that goes into my urethra in my favorite catheter is -stiff enough that I never have to touch that part, which is a good thing; it keeps the environment more sterile. With this variety it is impossible; I have to actually grasp the tube to insert it and that defeats the purpose of maintaining a sterile device!
“I understand” says the sales rep., when I call to disuss my experiment with the “Wet Noodle” . . . “A common complaint.” He kindly offers to send me a self-contained Closed System, the women’s intermittent catheter pack. He explains that this system will give me the opportunity to use a completely sterile “contained environment”. They come complete with:
- Sterile wipe
- Right and left gloves
- Waterproof barrier, in case I suppose I would need to cath myself in a place other than a toilet
- A sterile intermittent catheter that drains into a plastic bag
- Biohazard marked bag
NOTE: these packs are roughly the size of a woman’s medium wallet
It is worth a try! But, ater I study the system I try to imagine running into the nurse’s office at school and disposing of all of this. I thought that now that I have the tools, I will just do what I have to. I tried to wrap my mind around how I would cope once school starts; gone would be the days of ducking in the nurse’s office for a quick trip. And the waste of it all, so much of it…yet if it works . . . I must say the sterile gloves are an intriguing idea.
Luckily, I was due for my next appointment with my urologist; I would run all of this past her . . . . I am so glad I did; I guess I was misguided. She explained to me that it does not matter what TYPE of catheter I use, because my labia is colonized with bacteria (continuous residents). Anything that passes through my ureter will transfer bacteria with it, which will enter my bladder. She calmly said that at this point my only hope is to use a vaginal bio-identical estrogen hormone cream to alter the pH of my vaginal area. If the environment becomes “hostile” to the colony of bacteria, they could die off. The good news is I don’t have to change catheters; I get to keep the catheters that I am familiar with. I will keep using them daily (several times, in fact).
After Labor Day I will go off the low dose antibiotic and wonder about combatting more urinary tract infections. I will report back! There is nothing simple about a neurogenic bladder. I so want to create a bladder infection free-zone for myself and stay healthy!