Comments, EdgeNotes, In Focus

Trouble down below

I woke up in hospital, on a Monday afternoon, and behold! – a catheter was protruding from my nether regions.


Steve Latham


I’d gone in for an investigation, to see whether I had bladder cancer; the result was gratifyingly negative. But I had not expected to leave with this new appendage.

I am no stranger to the procedure, however. As a man d’un certain age, my prostate has decided to start growing, at a phenomenal rate.

There’s no risk of cancer at the moment – although prostate cancer will affect 1 in 8 men in the UK during their lifetime.

This is a major health problem, especially as life spans get longer, and proportionately more men are affected by the problem.

At the moment, however, there is still debate on whether the benefits of mass screening would outweigh the risks.

Moreover, any presenting symptoms, like going to toilet more frequently, can usually be explained simply by the growth of the prostate.

What happens is that the prostate squeezers the bladder, more and more, thus increasing the need to pee.

The sense of urgency can be intense, and eventually, the frequency can also increase, until it’s hard to travel anywhere without regular comfort breaks.

I remember not being able to journey more than 20 minutes on a train or bus, without desperately getting off, to find a public toilet, or more usually a café, to order a cappuccino, and use the facilities.

It does not always hamper activities, however.

On one occasion, I was able to chair a public debate in the House of Commons, with the plastic tube drooped down, invisibly, inside my trouser leg.

At the other extreme, the constant pressure to pee leads to an opposite problem – urine retention. That is, when you really need to go, but it just won’t come.

This happened a couple of times, and the agony is exquisite. I had to go to the emergency department of the hospital; and yes, have a catheter fitted.

The nurse, who inserted it, said it’s well-known that men always fall in love with the nurse who helps them in this way – the relief is immense.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t choose to have this alien object introduced, in any other context; despite, apparently, there being a sexual practice which involves catheters – how?

I can understand the attraction of many sexual perversions, even though I don’t indulge in them; but this one escapes me. I suppose the appeal of any fetish is lost on those who don’t share it. Besides the discomfort, though, it’s also the fiddliness. I’ve been fitted (I sound like a machine) with a flip-valve. Turn it on, and watch it flow.

At night, however, I switch to a night-bag. It does mean that I can sleep peacefully, without the urge waking me up. But it does curtail my nocturnal ramblings round the house, in search of snacks.

Nevertheless, I am grateful to the professional staff who look after me. But I am so looking forward to Monday, when it’s removed.

(Photos: Pixabay)

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