Slightly Used Posts: Two Catheter Stories

First of a few reposts of my better entries from the past year.

Two brief catheter stories from the September 2009. In case you haven’t realized it yet, catheter-gone-wrong stories are a staple of nursing practice.

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.

***         ***          ***          ***          ***

Find the Salami

Enormous obese patient, train wreck in all sorts of ways* including a candida infection nearly continental in its extent and stench.  Nurse decides to catheterize.  Penis is located under at least 5 cm of adipose tissue: in other words it’s an innie, not an outie.  Not a good thing in a guy.

Nurse fiddles around some trying to somehow visualize the meatus. At least.

“Oh,” says the patient. “I haven’t seen my dick in years!”


*Denies, however, diabetes. Ha.


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  1. #1 by Anonymous on Friday 03 September 2010 - 2216

    Baw ha ha ha ha – laughing so hard I am crying

  2. #2 by Boris on Saturday 04 September 2010 - 0135

    In and out for days until they finally realised that they ought to leave the Foley in and stick a bag on the end. Not an experience I ever want to repeat.

  3. #3 by Optorgosaro on Wednesday 06 January 2016 - 2124

    Hi! My name is Shanna Deen and I live in Lancaster,TX. I have read your blog post about Slightly Used Posts: Two Catheter Stories | Those Emergency Blues and I want to say that I am quite impressed with your professionalism on the subject!

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