When you deflate a balloon it never goes back to its original shape.
This isn’t usually a problem. But it is in this context.
Those are silicone Foley catheters, if you are wondering. I’ve got a hole through my abdomen into my bladder, into which the above gets pushed (with medical lubrication) and is held in place by inflating the balloon. This is the mechanism by which I pass water – a suprapubic catheter. The other end gets attached to a leg bag, which is a urine collection device; an external, plastic bladder if you will.
The catheter goes through a sinus, that is a skin tube through my layers of blubber and into my bladder. It’s a few centimetres long and it forms itself size-wise to the catheter. It has healed completely, a bit like a body piercing, as it were.
This is all fine and dandy except that every so often the catheter needs changing; over ten weeks or so the balloon goes down a bit, the catheter gets a bit mucky and coated and the silicon in the catheter starts to go funny. So the balloon is deflated, in theory reducing the tube to its original shape so it can be pulled out the same way it went in.
Those blooming wrinkles. They are a right blooming pain. No matter how slowly you go, how careful you are, getting those wrinkles through the hole in the bladder wall, and through that skin tunnel, always knacks. The tunnel just isn’t made for that..
I usually try to do it with ibuprofen and cocodamol, and with the aid of some local anaesthetic in the lubricant. It’s still horrific though. Last night I tried getting drunk. That helped a lot! – a great painkiller, it made sure the new tube was well flushed, and I can barely remember it.
But there has to be a better solution, doesn’t there? Surely it isn’t beyond the ability of material science to create a catheter in which the balloon completely deflates back to where it was? I know there are lots of other things to consider as well – resistant to infections etc. – but even so.
Oh, whilst you’re at it, catheter manufacturers, how’s about supplying leg urine bags WITHOUT leaving the tap open, and WITH the end pushed on properly? (I think they must want to give unsuspecting people smelly wet sock syndrome.)