On June 8th, I posted that instead of a leg bag, I was using a valve attached to the end of my bladder, which has huge advantages. But even after 3 weeks of trying to retrain my bladder to do its freakin’ job – filling and emptying, it still thinks it is on vacation. During the day I still have “to go” about every hour. Sometimes I can stretch it to 90 minutes or so.
Apparently the retraining of the bladder is something that needs to be actively done. You have to get to that point where you’re doing “the wee-wee dance,” and then hold-it as long as you can stand to. That’s a lot of work and not all that fun, but it’s necessary to show you your bladder who is boss. Right now, my bladder is still my boss, apparently.
How long it takes to tame the bladder after catheterization also varies from person-to-person. Age plays a factor, as well as gender and duration of catheterization. My mother (who is 73) had 2 surgeries in a 1-month period last year, during which she was catheterized. Total time with a catheter in place was about 4 hours, 2 for each surgery. She told me that it was a whole year before she could sleep through the night again!
I have had a catheter in place for about 5 months! And in another 2 months, I won’t have a catheter at all (if all goes according to plan). If my bladder isn’t playing ball by then, I’ll be getting up about every 90 minutes (3-4 times a night) to pee. Uggh.
Right now, since I still have the catheter in, I remove the valve before bed, and plug the bedside bag (Covidien Bedside Drainage Bag) in so I don’t have to get up at all. This is probably not helping the whole bladder-taming thing, but I also need rest. So it’s a trade-off.
My bladder needed to rest for 3 months, according to my doctors, in order to get an accurate picture of where and how long my urethral stricture (the cause of this whole ordeal – whose cause is still a mystery) is. So there wasn’t much of a choice about the valve thing until that scoping (combined antegrade and retrograde urethrogram – or “up-down-ogram,” as my urologists call it) was done. But now I try to use the valve at all times. Currently that means every day except while sleeping at night OR going to a summer blockbuster movie at the cinema:).
So if you are trying to retrain your bladder after being catheterized, don’t get discouraged if even after several months, you aren’t back to normal – even after only a few hours of having a catheter in. But eventually, things do get back to normal unless there was something really unusual, like bladder damage of some sort.
So hang in there and show your bladder whose boss.