Whether you’re new to catheterizing or have been doing it for years, it can be a daunting process. You might feel like you don’t know anyone who understands or can help. Friends and family may be supportive and sympathetic, but they don’t truly understand what it’s like. The good news? There are people who do.
Over 100 million urinary catheters are used around the world every year. A quarter of these are used in the US, where over half a million people use a catheter every time they go to the bathroom–men and women, young and old–so though it may sometimes seem like it, you’re definitely not alone in self-cathing, and connecting with others in a similar situation can make a big difference.
In addition to following best practices for self-catheterization, support groups can be a great source of help in coping with the situation . Research has actually highlighted the importance of social support for the continuous use of catheters. In fact “adequate and effective education and support” is listed as a requirement for successful catheter utilization by the Patient website.
Support groups can provide practical information, resources, guidance–and even long-lasting friendship! Whether you’re using a catheter due to MS, a spinal cord injury, or other medical condition, these groups can provide tips that apply to your specific situation. They also allow you to connect with others who have similar experiences and can provide emotional support.
One of our favorite sites is the National Association For Continence. The NAFC provides great resources relating to self-catheterization, tips for caregivers, and has an active message board where you can connect with others.
Here are some additional support groups and forums for specific medical conditions:
Spinal Cord Injury – United Spinal Association Support Groups
Bladder Exstrophy – Association For The Bladder Exstrophy Community Facebook group
Spina Bifida – Spina Bifida Association Facebook and ListServ groups
You can also use Facebook to search for groups that provide support online or in your local area. They’re a great way to connect with people who are in similar situations.
Whatever caused you to start self-cathing, remember that you’re not alone. There are people just like you who have the same questions, along with others who’ve been there and can offer advice. The important thing is to make use of the support available, as you don’t need to do it alone.
Unsure where to start? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can point you in the right direction 🙂