Is it true that you can’t have a relationship if you catheterize?

October 10 2019

Read about 17-year old Evie and her take on the myths surrounding urological problems and catheterization.

Evie Toombes confidently holding a catheter for managing her bladder and supporting her independenceNo one expects a young girl to use catheters. Instead we think of older people, perhaps in hospital or care homes that don't have full bladder control. Yet it is estimated that 1 in 2 of us will be affected by a urological condition in our lifetime. It just isn't always spoken about!

I've often been told that I don't look like someone who catheterizes or someone who can't go to the toilet normally, and I tend to respond with "there are criminals who don't look like serial killers, but here we are!"

Our perceptions are shaped by what we know and how we associate topics. So I feel it's hugely important to explain to people that urology conditions can originate from various conditions in anyone at any age or gender such as;

  • Cancers of the kidneys, bladder and prostate
  • Birth defects
  • Anxiety
  • Strokes
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Bladder infections

And the list goes on…

Catheterizing can be a taboo subject, so I want to help explain the basics of why it’s so important, because not doing it is a whole lot worse than doing it.

If I regularly catheterize and manage my bladder, I can stay clean, keep my kidneys healthy, reduce risk of infection and live my life to the full. And if I don't? I risk leaking everywhere I go, as well as kidney retention, infection growth and heightened risk, alongside giving myself a sure-fire way to end up in hospital in the long run.

Every day, every achievement and task I complete isn't despite of being catheterized (among other health management tools). It's actually because I catheterize – so not doing it is much worse than the alternative!

evie toombesEvie training on horseback - catheterizing doesn't prevent her from doing what she loves, it actually enables these pursuits

I want to give a quick myth busting session to help put some frequently distorted views and thoughts to bed:

'It's only 'old' people who have urological problems' 
I was born with mine, and have catheterized since the age of 3.

'Catheters look like a long garden hose!' 
Thanks to innovative products, my catheters now fit discretely in my makeup bag and are similar in length to a mascara wand, instead of the classic 1 meter long tubing.

'Bladder and kidney problems are caused by being unhygienic' 
Urological conditions can occur regardless of how hygienic you are (contrary to many people's beliefs), and some infections cannot be avoided through cleanliness.

'People who catheterize can't do 'normal' activities' 
I ride horses, go on sleepovers, attend music festivals and used to be in full time education . . . all because catheterizing actually helps me live my life to the full.

'You cant be in a relationship if you have urology problems' 
It's a lie, the only difference is that you're more likely to weed out the 'bad ones' through natural selection, telling people and being open will often leave you with true friends that accept you for who you are – and that's what we all need anyways isn't it? I'd say it's an advantage to help stay clear of any 'bad eggs'.

I hope this helped to shed some light on a subject that isn't often spoken about. Please bear it in mind if you do have a friend, family member, colleague etc that is effected by a urologic condition. And to all those living with a urology condition, you are not alone.❤️

Yours sincerely,
The teenager who 'doesn't look like she can't pee.'
– (Evie Toombes) Xx

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This article was originally published on Evie's blog:

Topics: Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), Bladder dysfunction, Intermittent Catheterization