I’ve been recruiting for new support workers and have met some excellent people in the process. Last night was my first night with Chris, one of my new overnight support workers.
I like being supported by a mix of men and women and this mostly works well. I have agency care in the morning to help me get washed and ready for the day, and that’s always provided by a woman, but I’m happy for most other tasks to be undertaken by people of any gender.
The only exception is helping me with my catheters. This needs to be done before I go to bed and although I know exactly how to do it myself, my arm tics make it very hard for me to do it without someone else holding my hand. Without that there’s a good chance that instead of ending up in the wee-wee hole the catheter might find my eye.
Until now I’ve just skipped doing a catheter whenever a man has been supporting me overnight, but this isn’t ideal for my sleep or for my bladder.
Like many disabled people I’m pretty good at coming up with creative solutions to difficulties I encounter but this issue has been proving a little tricky to resolve. Over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with ways I could catheterise safely on my own but most have felt precarious at best.
Last night, though, I managed to self-catheterise without it feeling like an extreme sport. Here’s my step-by-step guide.
1. Set up the catheter equipment and make sure everything is together and within easy reach.
2. Wash hands and sit on the floor with the mirror in a suitable location
3. Secure an elasticated waist strap round the right thigh and right wrist so that the wrist is firmly strapped to the thigh.
4. Put tubi-grip bandage on the right hand and thread the unopened catheter through so it’s facing the right way and so that the bandage is squeezing the fingers over the unopened catheter.
5. Open the catheter and get it in the right hole as quickly as possible.
This worked really well because I still had some movement in my arm and hand but not enough to get the catheter anywhere it shouldn’t be, and if I let go it was still secure.
The next stage of the process I haven’t quite perfected yet. As the catheter bag fills with wee it’s a bit of a race against time to somehow release it from the tubi-grip bandage without breaking the bag and covering myself with fresh urine.
While this is only one step in the process, I felt very pleased with myself for getting this far and reckon I’m pretty close to being able to complete the whole thing by myself.
This might not seem like a big deal but to me it feels exciting to know I can catheterise whenever I need to and retain a lot of choice over who supports me.