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Kenneth

Age at interview: 80
Brief Outline: Kenneth was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1994. After surgery he found he was incontinent. He had a urethral catheter for 8 years. In 2002 staff found it impossible to insert a new catheter so now he has a urinary sheath (a 'Conveen') to collect urine.
Background: Kenneth was an engineer and surveyor before he retired. He is married and he has two grown up children. Ethnic background/nationality: White British

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In 1994 Kenneth found that he had difficulty passing urine. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had surgery (trans-urethral resections) in 1994, 1995 and 1996. He also had radiotherapy and hormone treatment. After surgery he suffered from urinary incontinence, so had to live with a permanent urethral catheter, which he disliked intensely. He found it uncomfortable and sometimes the balloon that held the catheter in place would burst and the catheter fell out. Kenneth hated having a new catheter inserted.
 
After about eight years hospital staff found it impossible to insert a new catheter, so a doctor suggested that Kenneth should try a urinary sheath, sometimes called a Conveen®. He prefers this way of collecting his urine and lives a fairly normal life. He can go out, take short walks and travel overseas. He experiences some pain in the area of his prostate so takes Zomorph, which helps.    

 

 

After operations for prostate cancer, Kenneth was incontinent. Before surgery he had urinary...

After operations for prostate cancer, Kenneth was incontinent. Before surgery he had urinary...

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What was the reason for having a catheter in the first place?
 
Basically the loss of the ability to hold my urine in my body. It just kept, it just trickles out due to the operations that I’ve had for the prostate cancer.
 
So it was after the operations you found you couldn’t hold your urine?
 
Yes. Before one couldn’t go, or one did manage it sometimes, but barely a thimbleful and you’d be going out to the toilet umpteen times during the evening and night.
 
So you had a urethral catheter put in?
 
Yes

 

 

Kenneth hasn’t looked back since having a condom catheter. He washes it every night and changes...

Kenneth hasn’t looked back since having a condom catheter. He washes it every night and changes...

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You had the catheter for about eight years, you said?
 
Yes.
 
And then finally what made you decide not to have one anymore?
 
I didn’t decide. My body decided, it decided it for me. It just rejected the catheter. Every time it was put in, it wouldn’t go in, it was rejected. So then it was suggested that I tried a Conveen. Which, I haven’t looked back since.
 
And how do you get on with the Conveen? Do you find that quite easy?
 
Fine, yes. Change it every day, wash at night and, as I say, change it every day. And absolutely superb. Don’t look back.
 
How often do you actually have to empty that? Does it drain into a bag?
 
No, the Conveen is attached to the end of the penis and then it’s attached to the bag. The bag lasts a week, washed out every day. The Conveen I change every day in the evening when I have a shower.
 
You put a new one on?
 
Yes. I have tried it going longer but it’ll do two days if necessary. Three days, then you run the risk of the adhesive breaking down and it comes away.
 
Do you find the skin gets sore at all?
 
Occasionally. The worst thing of course is, if you’re not careful when you put it on, you get blisters on the end, which is painful. But then you just have to put up with it, don’t you?
 
And does that drain into a bag that you strap to your leg again?
 
Yes, just the same as with a catheter.
 
And how high up the leg would you position it?
 
Just below the knee.
 
So that works quite well?
 
Yes, just top strap there, bottom strap there.
 
I think your doctor will tell you what size is required. And the only advice I can give is cleanliness. Wash every day. Do not miss, it doesn’t matter how tired you are at night, wash, get it clean, keep it clean. I should think that is half the battle of being healthy. But you must, and I can’t emphasise it enough, keep clean.
 
And what about everyday life with a Conveen? Do you have the same problem that you can’t go for very energetic walks?
 
Yes.
 
Or is it easier?
 
No, it’s not easier.
 
Because you’ve got the bag there?
 
You’ve got the bag there and if you’re not careful, a long walk would cause a blister.
 
At the end of the penis?
 
Yes. So therefore you do short walks. And, as I say, you’ve just got to be careful that the tube doesn’t twist when it’s on the end. Because if the tube twists against the bag, it stops the wee coming through and it’ll rub as you walk.
 
Oh, yes, of course.
 

So you’ve got to bear it all in mind.  

 

Kenneth said it was ‘dreadful’ living with a urethral catheter. The balloon had burst and come...

Kenneth said it was ‘dreadful’ living with a urethral catheter. The balloon had burst and come...

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So you had a urethral catheter put in. Can you tell me what it was like to have a catheter? What was it like living with a catheter? 
 
Dreadful. I hated every moment of it. I hated it when it went in. Sometimes the thing, the bulb that held it in would burst, so it would come out. It could come out when you were in the bed. It could come out when you were out walking. 
 
And of course having it replaced, if you had somebody that was good at it, it was fine. But if you had somebody that wasn’t good at it, that again was another horrible time. I didn’t like it at all. 
 
I didn’t realise it could, the little balloon could burst and it could come out. 
 
Yes, unfortunately that happened to me, I think I can remember three times, once when I was out and twice when I was in bed. 
 
That must have been awful. 
 
It’s quite embarrassing, especially when you’re out. 

 

 

Kenneth explained why he thought that having a urethral catheter was embarrassing and a nuisance.

Kenneth explained why he thought that having a urethral catheter was embarrassing and a nuisance.

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Can you tell me what it was like to have a catheter? What was it like living with a catheter?
 
Dreadful. I hated every moment of it. I hated it when it went in. Sometimes the thing, the bulb that held it in would burst, so it would come out. It could come out when you were in the bed. It could come out when you were out walking. And of course having it replaced, if you had somebody that was good at it, it was fine, but if you had somebody that wasn’t good at it, that again was another horrible time. I didn’t like it at all.
 
I didn’t realise it could, the little balloon could burst and it could come out.
 
Oh, yes, yes, unfortunately that happened to me, I think I can remember three times. Once when I was out and twice when I was in bed.
 
That must have been awful.
 
It’s quite embarrassing, especially when you’re out.
 
Were you embarrassed to start with, when you had a catheter?
 
Oh, yes, oh, absolutely, a bit embarrassed about the whole thing. I certainly wouldn’t have spoken about it to anybody at first. I mean that was, I mean it’s not manly, is it?
 
Did you feel that?
 
Yes. Then, I now realise of course, it’s one of those things and you just sort of put up with it and make the best of it. And, well, what else can you do?
 
So at first you didn’t talk about it to friends?
 
No, oh, no.
 
Did any of them find out? And how did they react if they did?
 
I suppose some of them found out in the end. But I never actually went to somebody and said, “Hey, I wear a catheter.” It’s just something you don’t do. I mean if you met somebody who was in a similar circumstance, you might. But the only place you’d meet those would be in the hospital. And, well, you just didn’t.
 
Did you ever look for other people to talk about it to?
 

No. 

 

Kenneth hated having his urethral catheter changed. He once went to hospital where three health...

Kenneth hated having his urethral catheter changed. He once went to hospital where three health...

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Can you go into a bit more detail about what it was like actually having to have a new catheter, having it replaced? Did they do that at home?
                    
No. That was done at the surgery. It was something that, I just hated it. The catheter lasted about two to three months maximum, it should be. But, unfortunately, I used to try to leave it in as long as possible. But the drawback there is, of course, you can get an infection, which unfortunately I did a couple of times.
 
Before we go into what it was like when you had an infection, was it painful having a new catheter inserted?
 
Yes, very much so, unless you had somebody who was good at it. But, unfortunately, some of the medical people aren’t. When I was in the hospital, they tried to put one in one time and I think they had three different people, doctors and nurses doing it. And it just, each time my body rejected it and so I came away from it.
 
When you say your body rejected it, what do you mean by that exactly?
 
It wouldn’t accept it. Every time it went in, it came out.
 
Oh.
 
They just couldn’t get it to stay in.
 
So they never managed to get it right in to the bladder?
 

Apparently not. 

 

Kenneth found it uncomfortable cycling or walking long distances when he had his urethral catheter.

Kenneth found it uncomfortable cycling or walking long distances when he had his urethral catheter.

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How did having a catheter affect your everyday life?
 
Very difficult to do certain things, like cycling, with a leg going up and down all the time. I tried it, it didn’t really work. Walking, it interferes as well. You can walk a reasonable distance but not a long distance. You couldn’t go out for a walk in the hills or something because it becomes uncomfortable.
 
Did you have to have special clothing? Special trousers?
 
No.
 
It could just fit under an ordinary pair of trousers?
 
Indeed, yes.

 

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