Vicky became paralysed after a skydiving accident in Spain when she was 31. She feels self-conscious about her leg bag and would welcome a newly designed catheter that does not need a leg bag. She had a urethral catheter at first and then a suprapubic.
Vicky was a healthy, active woman before her accident and worked long hours as a marketing development manager. She was sporty and enjoyed outdoor pursuits such as biking, climbing and skydiving. At the age of 31, whilst on holiday with friends in Spain, she did a skydive, something she had done on countless occasions in the past. This time, though, she landed wrong and couldn’t get up.
Vicky spent 2¬¨¬®≈í¬© weeks in a Spanish intensive care unit. Her parents flew from the UK to be with her. She was catheterised urethrally but had no idea about this at that stage. She was given very little information about the extent of her injuries in Spain but, on her return to England, doctors told her that she’d paralysed herself permanently from the shoulders down. She would be unable to walk again or use her hands but had partial use of her arms.
In England, Vicky spent 1¬¨¬®≈í¬© years in a spinal unit, where she met other people in a similar situation. She’d been fitted with a urethral catheter initially, which she had for about 5 or 6 weeks, and was then fitted with a suprapubic catheter.
After being discharged from hospital, Vicky lived with a spinally injured friend for about three years. She later moved to be closer to her family. She now lives with a full-time carer and meets up with her family regularly.
Being paralysed was a traumatic life changing event. For Vicky, the hardest part was the continence issue. She dislikes having a leg bag strapped to her leg and is very self-conscious about it. At home, she drinks a lot of fluid, usually boiled water, and keeps as healthy as she can. When she goes out, however, she becomes conscious of not drinking too much in case her leg bag needs emptying. This often leads to infections.
Vicky said concerns about her catheter have led her to decide that she doesn’t want to have an intimate relationship again. Nine years since her accident, her opinion has remained the same because she would feel very uncomfortable showing someone the catheter and suprapubic site. She would welcome a newly designed catheter, one that would not need a leg bag and be better at preventing infections.
Vicky drinks about 6 pints of boiled water a day. She takes 1 oxybutynin tablet every morning, a medication used to relieve urinary and bladder difficulties by decreasing muscle spasms of the bladder. She has her leg bag emptied 3 or 4 times a day by her carer and her catheter changed every 5 weeks by a district nurse. She has tried catheters made of different materials and has found that a silicone catheter irritates her skin less than those made of other materials.
At the time of interview, Vicky had been paralysed for just over nine years. She now does voluntary work and has given talks about her experiences. She is a trustee of a spinal injury charityand an Art Fair. She enjoys being a volunteer, though finds that the trips to London need a lot of planning and are tiring.