Catheterization was one of my biggest fears when first officially diagnosed with MS in 1994. As the years went by I thought I might be one of the few patients who do not experience malfunction in the urinary system.
Then, in 2012, something changed. I went from having to urinate frequently (probably because of incomplete emptying), to not being able to urinate at all.
The mind boggles. How can something so basic just stop working in what seemed like overnight?
My back gave me terrible pain. I thought maybe something in my back was blocking the signals in the nerves, because no one just suddenly stops being able to urinate, even with MS, do they? Well, I did.
A recommended maximum volume before you go (rather than hold it) is 400 milliliters (ml). The urge starts at about 150 ml, but everyone is different obviously.
I found an interesting article with details on bladder volume in an online book The Physics Encyclopedia that had exactly the data I wanted to verify about the “Volume of a Human Bladder.”
In the emergency room
I went to the emergency room to find out why my back hurt so badly, and why I could not urinate. Specialized staff performed a bladder ultrasound to see how full my bladder was and they actually gasped. That was when I knew the ER was the right decision. I had 900 ml of liquid in my bladder. They catheterized me immediately, then they admitted me to the hospital.
Learning to catheterize
Since my back hurt too badly to walk, nurses catheterized me using a really long tube and a jug into which the urine flowed. After the first day they trained me to do the same. I used a mirror to see where to insert the tube. It is critical to not “hope” and “poke” with the catheter because one lousy microscopic germ can cause a urinary tract infection (UTI).
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