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After Cauda Equina Syndrome left her incontinent, Anita struggled to find the perfect catheter that would work with her body and allow her to live her life to the fullest.
My name is Anita and I live in the UK. Thirteen years ago, I collapsed to the floor at a restaurant whilst having dinner with my husband and four boys. My legs just stopped working. My husband brought me to hospital where an MRI scan revealed a disc compression on my spine. From that, I was diagnosed with Cauda Equina Syndrome. After six operations and a 2-week stay in the hospital, I was incontinent at the age of 39.
Back then, I was working in an intensive care unit, leading a team of nurses. So having been told I would need to use intermittent catheterisation (IC) to empty my bladder wasn't a great concern to me, as I knew I could hack it. However, I hadn't realised what a mammoth task it would be to find the perfect catheter that would work with my body.
Struggling to find the right intermittent catheter
Before I left hospital, my lovely spinal injury nurse taught me how to self-catheterise using a mirror and my (clean) fingers to locate the correct spot (which by the way feels like a dimple!). Then, I was sent home with just two products to try: one short catheter and one long. Frustratingly, neither were right for me. I struggled to insert them and I ended up having to self-catheterise eight times a day. This had a big impact on my life and started to control what I could and couldn't do. For example, I could no longer spectate at my younger son’s football games. I certainly didn't want to be fiddling around with catheters in a muddy field. Even using public bathrooms came with its difficulties.
Following another round of surgery, I was given catheters with collection bags in the hope that this would help. But I found they would just fill up and fall off, leaking urine everywhere – even with a seal. My fashion sense pretty much went out the window and black leggings became a staple piece of my wardrobe, hiding all potential leaks. Infection was another challenge, probably due to constant over touching when wrestling with the catheters. I lost count of the number of times I had a urinary tract infection (UTI). Things were getting pretty desperate!
Finally finding the right IC solution
Then last year, through a patient support Facebook group, I discovered Hollister. It was life-changing. Hollister had such a wide range of IC products with different catheter lengths and flexibility levels to choose from, as well as no touch products that fit discreetly into your handbag. My relief was immense!
At the moment, I am happily trying out all of their products. It is really amazing to be able to find more than one catheter that works for me. Right now, however, I am loving their Infyna Chic catheter. It looks so beautiful in its pink case; you would never think it was a medical device. I keep spares in my handbag and also in my car for emergencies. It has taken me years to get to where I am today and I am so grateful to have my life back. I feel so comfortable using the Hollister products. They are smooth and lubricated, and I find them so quick and easy to use that I don’t even need a mirror. Having a catheter that works perfectly with your body shape and size makes all the difference.
Getting back to living my life
I don’t even have to think about my IC now, and that is probably just as well – since I have my hands full looking after my grandchildren, not to mention I am finally back watching my son play football in the muddy field. Now that I finally have products I can trust, I can start planning our world cruise holiday!
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