A bladder shaped like a bomb counting down

The World of MS and a Trip to the Bathroom, Oh My

MS has claimed my bladder a little bit at a time over this long journey, until late last year when it went to sleep for good. I thought I would share with you in hopes if you’re going through what I did, you don’t delay seeing a urologist.

I should have paid attention

As mentioned in the past, my journey began in the mid-'80s, although my bladder issue started fifteen years ago. Unaware to me at the time, I thought this was normal aging. Over the years it took longer to empty my bladder, five-minute bathroom breaks turned into ten, then fifteen, then at times 20-plus.

Then 2022 rolled around, and ignoring this wasn’t a possibility any longer.

I set an appointment with a urologist to discuss my bladder issue. After discussing several different tests, the decision was made to perform a cystoscopy to look inside. Results indicated an enlarged prostrate and several bladder stones which could be causing my bladder not to empty.

Going to the ER

Several days after the test, I began experiencing incontinence for hours, which after a time became painful. The following day, I decided the ER was the prudent decision to receive medical help and advice. After arriving, the medical staff performed an ultrasound and decided the best approach was to drain my bladder.

After several more hours of drinking fluids to see if I was able to empty, which I couldn’t, the decision was made of using an indwelling (cath and bag) catheter. ER medical staff instructions included visiting my urologist and primary care doctor.

What my urologist told me

My urologist decided to perform an electromyography bladder test to determine if my bladder muscles were functioning. Once the test results were reviewed and a diagnosis of the functionality was determined, I reviewed the results with my urologist.

It sure was a surprise. I wondered: what does the future hold moving forward? You got it: no function at all within my bladder and no muscle movement at all. My future life had become bladderless. The only option left was to learn how to use a catheter or a catheter and a bag.

Discussing my options

I started with the catheter and a collection bag, which typically required draining two to three times a day. After four weeks I returned to the urologist's office to have the catheter and bag changed to avoid infections. Those four weeks for me were not any fun to dress, shower, and sleep with a bag.

During the visit, I asked about optional choices versus the current to hopefully have somewhat of a normal day-to-day. We discussed several ways such as an indwelling catheter, condom catheter, intermittent self-catheter, and suprapubic catheter. My final decision was self-catheters, allowing me a bit more of normal day-to-day. It still has its challenges yet eliminates the bag, and for me it is much more comfortable.

The moral of the story

The moral of the story is if you are having trouble emptying your bladder, it can be good to see a urologist. Delaying as I did could result in a difficult outcome, such as what I am now dealing with for life!

Thanks again for taking the time to read my article, and please share your thoughts. Until the next time, be safe, enjoy each day, and pass on an act of kindness helping those in need.

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