"The lessons from my nightmare, and fears for the future"

About: South East Essex PCT Southend Hospital / Cardiology Southend Hospital / Urology

(as the patient),

Some 14 odd years ago becoming a 50 year old male, I began experiencing prostate problems so went to my local GP, and was told I could take one of two courses of action to solve this.

The first being an operation, which worried me sick. The thought of being sliced open for a non life threatening problem convinced me to opt for the less severe course of action, which was to accept prescription drugs to shrink the prostate gland, thereby easing the pressure being exerted onto the urinary tract.

After trying a few different types, eventually ones were found that didn't give me any bad side effects and the problem seemed to correct itself to a small degree.

But after a while the problems surfaced once again and I tried my best to liaise with the urologist presented with my problem.

He appeared to do his best to convince me that I didn't need an operation of any sort by passing me over to one of his minions. That just didn't inspire any sort of confidence in him by me, and he too gave me the impression that I wasn't that bad, when I know how I used to be compared with now.

Anyway, around two years ago, I suffered a heart attack and was admitted to Southend General Hospital where an immediate op was performed, within a matter of a few hours. A stent was successfully fitted in the blocked artery thereby saving my life, for which I am eternally grateful.

The hospital crash team and staff in general were brilliant and I cannot fault the way I was looked after during the op, or my short stay in the ward.

However, now we come to the nightmare bit, because of all the painkilling drugs etc that was pumped into my body the urinary functioning system closed down and I went into total water retention of the bladder as a result.

This meant the insertion of a dreaded catheter for the first time in my life (something that I had also feared and vowed that I would never allow myself to be seen dead sporting one of those things) but to my relief once inserted I got quite used to it for a day or two and didn't mind carrying it around with me as I suffered no discomfort from having this foreign object inside my body.

Two days or so later, I was told it would have to be removed and it was hoped I things would return to normal once again in the water works field.

Alas, I still had the same problem and the decision was made to fit another, which caused me a lot of discomfort being very sore inside from the insertion of the first catheter, but once again it cured the problem and allowed me to function ok.

Another day or so later the urologists minion came along to see me and promptly informed me that once again they were going to remove it and see if I could try again to pass water without having to wear one as they planned to send me home.

By this time, I was adamant that I wanted the operation and told the minion urologist so and said I wanted the catheter to remain inside me until I had the op to hopefully cure me altogether.

He agreed to this, but said I would have to have this one removed as it was a short term unit and I would have to be fitted with a long term one, to this end I reluctantly agreed and I almost hit the roof when the third one was fitted as my urethra by now was unbelievably sore and I was then discharged to go home.

Over the course of the next three months, I suffered a constant pain night and day like I have never felt in my life before. To the point where I often wished I had died during the heart attack, rather than have to bear the pain and discomfort I was experiencing with this latest catheter inside me. It felt like a tube of acid inside me.

Constant visits to my GP and the hospital, resulted in nobody worrying about my plight and just sending me on my way with various antibiotics to try to quell all the infections that I was contracting as a result of my body going into permanent rejection of this foreign object inside me, all to no avail.

I even called out a nurse to try a new catheter, which really made me yell and writhe with the excruciating pain that by now made my urethra seem it was permanently on fire.

Eventually, I finally struggled up to see my GP and demanded to have this thing removed from my body as I could stand the pain no longer. I was worried sick that I might not be able to function normally ever again, but was over the moon when as I disappeared into the small room to give a urine sample expecting to suffer badly by passing my first sample (if indeed I could anyway) and breathed a sigh of relief when I managed to return to normal bit by bit successful enough to be allowed to return home free from the terrible pain I had been suffering for three months or so.

One may be forgiven for asking why I have left it so long after the event before mentioning this sorry tale, the answer is easy.

Being so relieved at being able to function on my own once again I returned to the urologist telling him that I was at the time managing to pass urine reasonably well and with that he promptly dismissed me and said he didn't no longer need to monitor me.

The whole point I’m making in all of this is the fact that no one either at the hospital or the health centre seemed to know or care about finding any possible alternative catheter construction types to possibly solve the immediate problem, all they seemed to want to do was prescribe different antibiotics all the time and send you on your way.

Now the problem is beginning to surface once again so I will see my GP in the near future to try to resolve this problem once and for all by insisting on an operation to kill or cure so to speak.

If I get no sort of satisfactory answer to this on going problem, the worry is beginning to get to me from the point of view that if no course of action is taken in the very near future regarding this situation, when my next heart attack arrives, and it will, because it follows that my father died of three consecutive attacks.

Then, should I be lucky enough once again to survive the next one, the thought of having to go through all that pain and anguish again is nothing short of terrifying to say the least.

Saying that no one seemed to care or worry about my predicament is a bit unfair on my behalf because as I said I wasn't ignored completely, but I am concerned that the people responsible for your well being directly are either not conversant with the important facts of either stocking or being familiar with the facts of how many other types of catheter constructions there are available in order to try to find a compatible make up that will suit individual bodies and not cause constant rejection reactions.

Up till now following my heart attack I never felt the need to complain about this incident as I was only too pleased to be back to normal so to speak, but never lost the fear of such an event happening in the near future.

All my efforts to try to find some one that was interested in my plight or could give me answers to my question as to if there was any other types or constructional make ups, or differences, to be tried, either fell on deaf or ignorant ears I’m afraid, maybe the relevant departments need to be given more help and advice by suitable sources on these matters and thereby alleviate more unnecessary suffering to patients in the same situation as I suffered.

It was only after I got myself a personal computer that recently looked up on the web and found out direct for myself that there are indeed different types of catheter make ups to be had in the hopes that one or the other type will probably be more suitable to different persons.

This is by no means a complaint from me, more of a concern to my future admissions to any hospital and/or other patients undergoing similar problems at the present or in the future, especially if by a simple act of trying more suitable types can possibly solve the unnecessary pain I had to suffer, I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy.

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