Ever since Dina Hvidgaard was diagnosed with spina bifida as a child, she has had to use catheters when she felt the urge to urinate. But several urinary tract infections caused her to start using a system for catheterizing.
Dina Hvidgaard was diagnosed with hidden spina bifida when she was 10 years old. Her peers had long since been out of diapers, but Dina couldn’t control her bladder, so she was offered an operation to make her urethra tighter.
“It stopped the incontinence, but I had to start using intermittent catheters”, says Dina, who started out with long intermittent catheters, which needed to be placed in water before catheterization. “It was extremely impractical and hampered me a lot. If there was no water nearby, I needed to have a bottle of water with me, and when I was on holiday in the southern hemisphere, the catheter became as soft as spaghetti when the water in the tap or bottle was hot”, Dina remembers, and continues:
“But I was young and didn’t know any better. So it was only after a few years when I was at the hospital for a check-up that I asked if there might be a better catheter for me.”
That was it. The following years, Dina used the SpeediCath® Compact catheter from Coloplast and lived her life like other teenagers. She moved from her hometown to the big city with her boyfriend to study.
Urinary tract infections provided substance for reflection
Some people postpone or skip catheterization when the catheter hurts or restricts their social life, which in turn increases the risk of urinary tract infections. Dina, on the other hand, persistently insisted on catheterizing, because as she puts it: there was no choice – it was essential. On the other hand, Dina had a choice when deciding on her routines and something triggered her to set up a strict system for her catheterizations:
“A year and a half ago something happened. I started getting urinary tract infections, which therwise had not been a problem since I got my SpeediCath® Compact catheter again. It got me thinking about whether there was something I could do differently”, says Dina, who suggested that it might be about her routine – or lack thereof.
“It was many years ago that I was trained to use intermittent catheters, and I probably needed to brush up on my knowledge of bladder health” - Dina
“I decided to manage my catheterizations according to some fixed times during the day”- says Dina, and She counted the times when she catheterized during a workday.
The frist time is 5:30 in the morning when she wakes up then again around 9 a.m. when she arrives at work. She catheterizes at lunch time and then again at around 4 p.m. before she drives home from work and again in the evening at 8 p.m. and before bedtime. In addition, Dina catheterizes at night if she wakes up and needs to urinate. For Dina, the result of the routine was crystal clear:
“There is a clear correlation between catheterizing approximately every four hours and urinary tract infections, which are now rare” - Dina
Two great tips from Dina
- Create an easy routine that you can remember easily. You can do this by linking it to other daily tasks you already do.
- Drink sufficient fluids. You should not control passing urine during the day by drinking less. That increases the risk of urinary tract infections.
Dina’s experience is supported by the Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates (SUNA) patient fact sheet highlighting the importance of adhering to an intermittent catheterization schedule and performing intermittent catheterization throughout the day.