I can't believe I found women with such similar lives as mine!! I'm so relieved! My retention issue, turns out after three urologist and an oncologist's opinions, to be from pelvic radiation treatment I endured 10 years ago.
About 7 or 8 months ago I noticed, as you mentioned betsy4, that I was having to urinate way too often and was up in the night at least 5 or 6 times. My GP wasn't concerned but at one of my visits this May it was discovered I was extremely anemic and had me hospitalized.
Having a history of ovarian cancer 10 years ago, my oncologist was informed of my hospital stay and suggested a CT scan which found a cancer recurrence BUT also a very overextended bladder.
My oncologist thought it was necessary to insert a foley catheter right there in his office a week later, and like you bernp, I was in pain, crying, the works. I don't know if it was tissue blocking or a stricture but whatever it HURT!
Well after a few mistakes by doctors (leaving the foley in for a week, taking it out with little or no advise with me back in the hospital in June with kidney pain and vomiting for one) I have been self-cathing three times a day. This was not an acceptable answer to me so I saw two other doctors who gave me Rxs and said to see them again in three months. Well the drugs didn't do anything and I wasn't going to wait three months to discuss other options. So I scheduled appointments, 4 months out sometimes, and kept them in my back pocket in case. Glad I did.The doctor I saw in December's at least paying attention.
Yesterday I had a cystoscopy and was "stretched open." I came home expecting miracles and found that after calling the nurse today that I have to wait two or three days for the swelling to go down before I'll see any difference. After reading about these repeat procedures, I'm less excited about this but maybe, just maybe I'll finally be lucky.
Believe it or not I had the recurrence of cancer and lung surgery and the only thing I kept hounding the doctors about was this urinary issue. It is a quality of life issue. Some of you are more skilled than I am apparently but I haven't mastered this enough to feel comfortable in a public bathroom. I tried to do it over the toilet but sometimes I'd place it where I thought it should be but it wouldn't go all the way in and I didn't want to try poking somewhere else, so back to the floor, light and mirror trick. You can't do that in a restroom stalls.
I see others talking about lube and infections and I wanted to share what was recommended to me. It was a self-lubricating catheter that's supposed to cause less damage to the lining therefore cutting down on infections. It worked better, i still got a few infections but I was getting them constantly before. This catheter is made by Rusch "Female FloCath Quick Kit" (contains the catheter, a povidone-iodine prep pad for cleaning among other things). I'm sure other companies make it but I got this through 180 medical in the US. I hope it's available for you.
I'm so glad to find you all because I don't feel like talking about this to other people usually because I know they can't understand this, who would - I don't really understand it either but at least I've found someone who can relate to the experiences.