Living in Fear of Infection

After a spinal cord injury, Lena dealt with urinary tract infections (UTIs) and incontinence. Knowing her own body and having an intermittent self-catheterization (ISC) routine helped her feel more mentally aware, prepared, and liberated to take control of her own care.

Read Lena’s story.

Lena lives in the UK. She has been dealing with UTIs as a persistent issue since her spinal injury in 2009, when she was 18 years old. Throughout her journey, Lena has acquired valuable knowledge about her body and its responses. 

UTIs often lead to me having accidents 

The impact of UTIs can be mentally challenging. For me, getting dressed up and looking pretty in preparation to go somewhere nice, only to be soaking again by the time I reached the car severely impacted my self-confidence and mental health.  

A severe infection can lead to me having a lot of accidents. At times like that, I don’t tend to venture very far from home at all. I get straight on the phone to the doctor to get things cleared up. Believe it or not, because I had a weakened immune system from cancer therapy antibiotics didn’t help, but bicarbonate of soda mixed with water worked well for me at that time. 

Spotting the early signs of a urinary tract infection 

Since using intermittent catheters, I have learned to understand my body differently. Learning more about my body and how things work, I can spot the signs of a UTI earlier and I can eliminate many problems. 

People tend to think that if your urine is darker then something is wrong and if your urine is clear then all is well, but for me that’s not always the case. When I urinate and it smells different, I know straightaway that something is off and I may have an infection. 

Learning about how my lifestyle choices impact my body 

Drinking plenty of fluids is important when I have a UTI. But sometimes, when you have a spinal injury like me, it’s hard to drink a lot because it puts you out of your routine. I can’t always drink cranberry juice, but cranberry capsules are a great help to me. 

At home, in my own environment, it seems that my body is familiar with its own germs. I’ve noticed that if I go for a break away, I seem to be exposed to different germs and that can lead to more infections. I generally benefit from thorough handwashing and always carrying alcohol hand gel with me. 

Over the years I have established an intermittent self-catheterization (ISC) routine that works for me and my body. In the spinal unit, we were told to make sure you go to the toilet every four hours. I had to learn that four hours was too long for me. I’d need at least an hour for a cup of tea. If I have a drink of water or juice, it’s earlier; it could be half an hour to 40 minutes. Knowing my own body and having a routine makes me feel more mentally aware, prepared, and liberated to take control of my own care.  


Lena is an Infyna Plus™ catheter user who has received compensation for this statement. The testimonials, statements, and opinions presented are applicable to the person depicted. These testimonials are representative of that person’s experiences, but the exact results and experience will be unique and individual to each person.