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Since I posted a thread about self-catherization -- more formally called Clean Intermittent Catherization (CIC) -- there have been a few different discussions on the topic in various threads. I thought it might make sense to bring those discussions over to a dedicated thread. With that in mind, I will summarize and/or copy and paste some of what was said before into this thread for better continuity.
My story in a nutshell. 68 years old with BPH probably since my late 20’s. Watch n’Wait strategy with on-and-off trials of Tamsulosin (Flomax) with poor results. Symptoms were the normal retention issues resulting in frequent urination with incomplete emptying, urgency, and having to go to the bathroom at night in increasing frequencies. Near the end, two or three uti’s per year often accompanied by gross hematuria (bleeding).
Two years ago things got significantly worse and I couldn’t urinate on my own without physically pushing against my bladder (Crede Maneuver). That led to another trip to the urologist where ultrasound showed significant retention and hydronephrosis (water in the kidneys). I was told I needed an operation (this facility primarily did Turps) but first I had to rehabilitate my bladder because at the time it was too flaccid (stretched) for a good surgical outcome. I was given the choice of wearing a Foley Catheter for six weeks, or a program of self-catherization (CIC) in order to decompress the bladder. I chose CIC so I didn’t have to wear a Foley 24/7, and also because I felt it put me more in control.
Six weeks later my bladder was rehabilitated to the extent they could do a Turp, and the hydronephrosis was gone. After doing some research and a lot of thinking I decided to put off the Turp due to the potential of irreversible side effects, primarily retrograde ejaculation. Two years later, I am still doing CIC while waiting for newer procedures with better outcomes and fewer side effects.
I will detail my experiences with CIC in following posts -- but to summarize, once mastered, it’s a painless five minute procedure that allows you to empty your bladder completely any time you want. With CIC, I therefore have no retention issues, no urgency, and in most cases sleep 6-8 hours through the night without having to get up and go to the bathroom. No UTI’s in over 18 months. And because my bladder has been partially rehabilitated, I can urinate normally about 50% of the time without using the Crede maneuver. My IPSS Score (International Prostate Symptom Score) would be Zero (the best), albeit with a little mechanical assist.
As of now, nothing that I have read about the various current procedures has tempted me to have an operation. That could, or could not change, in the future, but the nice thing about CIC is that you can stop it any time you want with no repercussions. The caveat is that CIC should be done under the supervision of a doctor who will monitor your BPH as required. Similar to seeing a doctor on a regular basis during a Watch n’ Wait BPH strategy.
I know many of you here have already had operations like Turp, and in most cases people seem pleased with the outcomes. CIC certainly isn’t’ for everyone, and I can understand why someone does not want to carry around a urinary “tool box” with them. On the other hand, with practice, it’s not the traumatic and scary procedure some think. I can honestly say right now that for me it’s about as traumatic as brushing my teeth.
I’m offering my experiences and thoughts on CIC for any of those who haven’t yet made up their mind on an operation. It even can make sense for those of you who don’t need an operation yet, but want to increase their IPSS quality of life score. In fact, wish I had done CIC earlier while on Watchful Waiting. Didn’t realize how much BPH had been affecting me for most of my adult life until I was able to empty my bladder completely.
CIC doesn’t have to be a permanent solution, it could just part of a waiting strategy like I’m on, until better surgical operations are developed with better outcomes and fewer permanent side effects.
For any number of reasons, the majority of urologists don’t seem to offer CIC as an alternative to surgery. My current urologist doesn’t as far as I know, but he’s OK with what I’m doing because it works for me. So, either you have to find a urologist you can convince to go along, or go to some of the major teaching hospitals where CIC is probably more in use and better understood. That is where I was taught, albeit not very well, but that is another story.
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