Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Day I Got Cathetered

Some of you received what I'm sure were interesting text messages from either my mom or me during the day on Friday. My mom texted the family to alert them to the potential of something being wrong, and I sent a few texts to marvel at the fact that I'd just been cathetered and to pass on what I thought would be a good laugh. Since the full story can't be told in texts, read on for all the nasty details concerning the day I needed a catheter to pee.

It started around 8 a.m. on Friday. I downed my "mother to be" tea and dashed out the door to make the 9:15 yoga class at my gym. I usually have to pee a couple times after drinking all that tea, and the first time made itself known as I was walking into the gym. With a few minutes to spare, I stopped in the bathroom on the way to yoga. No urine graced me with its presence. Thinking that the urge to pee was all in my head, I resolved to put mind over matter and headed off to yoga. Mind over the matter of a full bladder is difficult in a number of yoga poses (try all of them), and savasana was less than relaxing given I was counting the minutes till I could race back to the potty and unleash the tea fury, but I made it through the whole class anyway. Following a hurried "namaste", I shoved my mat in my bag, threw my Uggs on my feet, ran to the ladies room, and happily dropped to the toilet. But no relief. No urine. I flushed the empty toilet anyway and returned to my mind over matter mantra.

Despite my situation, I stuck with my plan of stopping at the grocery store on the way home and added cranberry juice to my mental list. Considering I'd just ended the antibiotics for that GBS thing, I was fairly certain I didn't have a urinary tract infection, but I didn't have any better ideas either. My new plan to conquer my mind playing this trick on me, was to actually fill up my bladder so that the next time my mind decided to sound the "gotta pee" alarm, there would actually be some pee. So when I got home, I chugged some cranberry juice. Then I downed 1000 ml of water (a full Nalgene bottle). Then I set about cleaning the house (next after "grocery store" on the "to do" list for the day). When the urge to pee again became unbearable, I skipped off to the bathroom--convinced I'd beaten my mind in this game it was playing on me--and sat down. A very small and insignificant trickle was my reward. At this point, I stopped to take inventory of all the liquids I'd ingested that morning. I thought back to other mornings and how I'm in and out of the bathroom at least once an hour, sometimes more, with much more than a trickle.

I went back to dusting. Sometime around 11:30, after a few more failed attempts at urinating, I realized that regardless of whether or not this was serious, it was getting really painful. Imagine having to pee really bad for 3 hours. I gave in and called the Woman's Center (that's where I see a midwife, but they have doctors there too). They gave me a 1:00 appointment. I gathered my stuff and hit the road for Norfolk (about a 20-25 minute drive). On the way there, the pain became so unbearable that if I thought anything would come out, I'd have pulled over and dropped trow on the side of the road. I talked to mom on the phone for a bit but it was clear I needed that cell phone hand to hold the seat belt off my bladder. I was frantic and racing through the streets trying to find my way to this place I'd only been once before. Once parked, I stopped at the bathroom on the way to the elevator because by this point, it hurt so bad, I couldn't not try. I got a few more drops, enough to ease a teensy bit of the pain. I took the elevator up to the fourth floor, signed in, and sat on the edge of my seat, silently pleading with the nurses in the back (I was certain that if my thoughts were strong enough, they'd feel my need and hurry the hell up). I contemplated pulling the crazy card on the desk assistant, dramatically explaining that my bladder was going to burst inside me and poison me. Miraculously, patience won out.

Finally, a nurse pulled me back. I managed to eek out a couple more drops for a urine sample (are they serious???) which was enough to show that I did not have UTI. I was escorted to a little room and told to undress from the waist down and "the doctor would be right with me." (The following information is what I gathered from talking to the doctor AFTER it was all said and done--I did very little listening while in this stage of pain, but this seems the most appropriate part to insert this into the story.) The doctor explained that the problem was most likely my growing uterus which sits right behind the bladder and sometimes (though rarely) interferes with bladder functions only until it grows out of the pelvic bone, which should be in a couple more weeks. This is most common in women who have a posterior uterus (which I do). Apparently the cervix in a posterior uterus tilts up and can cut off the urethra, thereby restricting the pee flow. She explained the fix was to shove some plastic in there which would manually hold the uterus in the correct position until it was big enough to hold itself in its proper place by itself. She didn't want to automatically do this first and suggested a catheter to ease my pain.

She started to suggest us listening to the baby while there but noticing the tears and desperation in my eyes, said she'd wait to push on my stomach until after the catheter. (Haha! My mental thoughts were strong enough to be heard!) In hustles the nurse with a plastic "hat" and a clear tube. I asked if it was going to hurt then realized I didn't care and asked her to hurry. "We" (how awkward to have peeing be a "we" situation) filled up the hat. The nurse felt bad having to stop the catheter, but she was afraid I was going to overflow the hat (which reminded me of that scene in Dumb and Dumber where Lloyd has to pee in the van and he starts filling up all the empty beer bottles). The nurse pulled the catheter (ugh!), emptied the hat, repositioned the hat against my rump, and then reinserted the catheter. They drained a total of 650 ml of urinte out of me. I was convinced that there was more but I think this nice young nurse was tired of funneling my pee.

Ahhh! Sweet relief! The doctor came back in and again explained what was going on. This time I asked questions. The doc said she wanted to see if the catheter jump started anything prior to going with the plastic so she listened to the baby's heartbeat, then sent me home with the instruction to drink a ton of water and then call back at 3:30 and let them know whether or not I could go. I had a full Nalgene in the car so I chugged all 1000 ml on the way home. I didn't want to get myself into the same predicament as before, so I decided to wait a bit and give this a chance to work itself through before overfilling myself again.

About an hour later I drank 400 more ml. It was 3:00 now and hubby #1 was out of school and finally calling me back. I felt the urge to pee so I said goodbye, made my way to the bathroom, sat down, and nothing. Not wanting to find myself in the same urgent predicament that I was in earlier, I immediately grabbed my keys and jumped in the car. I called the nurse from the car and told her I was on my way back and to get the catheter ready. The wait this time seemed longer and more painful (it was Friday afternoon and everyone was lolly-gagging around). I again considered pulling the crazy card to emphasize the emergency, but sanity won out for the second time that day (pat on the back anyone??). When the nurse finally came for me, I immediately asked for a catheter. She replied that the doctor was going to put in the plastic and let me try to go on my own (much to her relief I'm sure). I nearly cried. The doctor took FOREVER to get in there, but that waiting was the worst part. The procedure wasn't that bad. The "plastic" is round and bendy, kind of like a diaphragm (according to the dr.; I've never actually seen a diaphragm and wouldn't know). The doc gloved up, unwrapped the disk, bent it in half and shoved it quite far inside me. Prior to doing this she explained that I shouldn't be embarrassed if I peed on them. I didn't explain that the relief would overshadow the embarrassment and that frankly, since they'd taken so long to come to my aid, my urinating on them could be considered just.

Well, that first plastic thing was too small to hold up my uterus so the doc pulled it out and traded it in for a larger one. Take two: fold larger plastic and ram it where the sun don't shine. Once rammed, she manually adjusted my uterus (I swear that's what she was doing--she told me so! And I could def feel her rearranging my innards though to be honest, I don't know where my uterus is in relation to anything else). Innards and plastic in place, the nurse removed her arm and told me to go try out my new plastic. I fled the room wrapped only in that papery towel thing and sprinted down the hall, past a young family (made up of pregnant woman, child, and father who either had seen enough to not be shocked by me running down the hall covered in only a paper towel from the waist down, or was just polite enough not to show it), to the bathroom. Success!! Minutes into the best pee ever, the nurse yelled to me from outside the door to see how I was going. Good! I yelled back. Finished, I walked calmly back to the room, got dressed, spoke to the doctor, and headed home. I sat in traffic, but I didn't even care--it's amazing what you can endure when your bladder is empty.

I'm glad it was such a quick and easy fix, and I'm super glad to be peeing all by myself again. Of all the things I think I should be grateful for, I never once thought to be thankful for the ability to pee by myself!! It is truly one of the greatest privileges, one I am happy to be capable of again.


  1. O.M.G. this was an insane story. and now i feel like i have to pee.

  2. Even though I lived through it with you (tensely) on Friday - I kept chuckleing as I read your story. Hindsight is SOO much funnier!


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