The Other Classic Foley Story

Below reminds me of my classic Foley catheter insertion story, which happened many years ago in a hospital far, far, away.  Picture another somewhat obese patient, this time a female of uncertain age, lying on her back expectantly, as the nurse (me) and a ward aid attempt to catheterize. The ward aid, I should add, is an Evangelical of strong opinion and somewhat cramped perspective.  She is holding the patient’s legs apart in the lithotomy position*, while I’m literally wading through folds of fat, holding back wads of tissue with my unsterile elbows, trying to find the urethral meatus.

The patient bears with this, long suffering, and yes, smiling.

“I’m having trouble visualizing the meatus,” I say, then remembering I am speaking to a woman who probably wouldn’t know a meatus if she fell over it, “I can’t find the right hole.”**

“Oh honey,” says the patient. “That’s what my husband says!”

The ward aide’s expression was a picture.


*Flat on back, knees bent.  So called because surgery to remove urinary tract stones were done in this position.  An excellent and a wee bit horrifying description of this — before anaesthesia — is in the first book of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, Quicksilver.

**Sometimes not as easy as you would think.  Human anatomy is rarely textbook.


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