Iain was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 1994 at the age of 18. He used intermittent catheterisation for about 5 years and was then fitted with a urethral catheter, which he had for about 8 months. He has used a suprapubic catheter since 2009.
Iain was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1994 at the age of 18. MS is a disease affecting the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Iain’s first symptoms were urinary problems and started in 1993. At that time he had incontinence problems overnight. Over time, however, he started having incontinence problems during the day too.
At first, Iain used intermittent self catheterisation. He used a catheter four or five times a day, using his watch to know when to catheterise. He had little sensation in his bladder so couldn’t tell if it was getting full or not. Iain used intermittent catheterisation for about five years. As his MS progressed, however, he had reduced sensation in his fingertips, which made intermittent catheterisation more difficult.
When Iain had a major relapse, getting to the bathroom became difficult. He was fitted with a urethral catheter, which he had for about 8 months. During this time, he also took medication for bladder spasms.
Iain said that, from the age of 25 to 28, he had bladder retention and was retaining urine. Catheterisation helped solve this problem. From about 28 to 30, as his MS progressed, he found it hard to walk. He used a walking stick to start with and, later, crutches. In his early 30s, he started using a wheelchair.
Over time, Iain’s bladder problems became progressively worse. After doing some research on the internet, Iain asked his urologist if he could have a suprapubic catheter because he wanted to continue with normal activities as much as possible, including having sex, which was much more difficult with a urethral catheter.
In 2009, Iain was fitted with a suprapubic catheter, which he said made my life much easier to survive with and it worked very, very well for a long time.’ Iain said that having sex was much easier than with a urethral catheter and he got more infections with a urethral catheter and these would cause a relapse of his MS. On average, he now gets about one infection a year, though the same number of bladder spasms. He has his catheter changed every three months by a district nurse.
Iain said that, because of his MS, he gets lots of bladder spasms and, in a few months time, planned to have BOTOX injected into the wall of his bladder to help with these. Instead of a drainage bag, which he uses at the moment, he will start using a flip flow valve.
Iain works full-time and lives with his wife. When they go on holiday he takes a spare catheter with him which, if needed, he can change himself. Iain drinks lots of fluid every day and takes cranberry capsules. He advises other catheter-users to drink lots of fluid.