One of the key components of an effective bladder management regimen is finding the right catheter to suit your own individual needs. Claire Rencken speaks to Anton Engelbrecht to gain some insight.
Engelbrecht has been a quadriplegic since August 1988, when a rugby injury left the then 22-year-old with a C5/C6 incomplete lesion. He underwent a posterior spinal fusion soon after his injury and was discharged from rehab with a permanent catheter after six months. Because he has some sensory saving – enabling him to feel when his bladder is full – and limited motor function, which has also improved over time, he soon realised that his best way forward would be to self-catheterise. So he and his urologist decided on the best course of action.
For the past two or three years, he has been using Coloplast’s Easicath (hydrophilic catheters). For him, this is the best option. He re-uses the catheters a maximum of three times before using a new one. He has tried Speedicath but still prefers Easicath.
Engelbrecht says he can confidently say that he now gets fewer – about one or two – urinary tract infections (UTIs) per year, whereas two years ago he was getting them six to eight times a year. This is partially due to using the right catheter, but he notes that there are other contributing factors too: “You also need to watch your diet – eat healthy, regular meals. Cut down on sugar and wheat – these substances impact the colonisation of bacteria in the bladder. And you should ensure that you’re getting enough rest and sleep.
“Your choice of the right catheter, which should cause minimal damage to your urethra and bladder neck, is like the final key to unlocking the right bladder management solution for you personally. But you always have to look at the big picture,” he explains. The end goal is to not experience any UTIs, which requires that there is no re-use of the catheter at all.
Engelbrecht is still in the process of getting his medical aid to pay for his catheters. His advice to others going through this process is to work with the medical aid as a team – then they will know you are not trying to exploit the system and will be more likely to accommodate your request.