Discovering I Had a Bladder Problem

I never knew I had a problem with my bladder until I went for a routine pre-op appointment for a surgery I required on my elbow. Numerous straightforward tests were completed: blood pressure, heart rate, various blood tests, and then I was asked to provide a urine sample. No worries, I thought, but the nurse almost immediately came back and said "you have a UTI." "Really?" I said, as I was totally unaware.

A series of stubborn UTIs

This was the start. I required numerous surgeries on my elbow and hand, 5 in total, and at each pre-op the same problem was encountered: "You have a UTI." A couple of the scheduled operations had to be cancelled as there seemed to be difficulty in getting rid of the infection. It was decided that I should be sent to go and see a urogynaecologist.

Again numerous tests were completed, including what was called "urodynamic testing." This test involves putting a tube into the bladder and filling it with water until you feel the need to urinate. A painless if somewhat little embarrassing procedure, but hey, these people are doing this job everyday and did their best to make me relax — in fact we had a good laugh.

The water kept going in and going in. "Do you need to pee yet?"; "No," was my answer. They continued to fill my bladder until they had used up all the water. They then removed the tube and asked me to get off the bed, which I did. The accompanying nurse then turned on taps, asked me to jump up and down, and no, I still didn't have the urge to pee.

Problems emptying my bladder

It was at this point I was informed that my bladder was not "voiding" (emptying) as it should. I had kind of gathered that! The outcome was that I would need to catheterise four times a day to ensure that my bladder fully emptied, and this should stop the recurring UTI's, and it did for a while, a couple of years in fact.

Then again at yet another pre-op assessment, I was told I had a UTI. “Not again,” I thought. I felt ok; I had no idea I had a UTI. Antibiotics were issued, and off I went. Surgery went ahead as planned.

A red flag

Then a few months later, I noticed blood in my urine, not a little bit but totally red. I immediately phoned my GP and she told me to come in that day as she was aware of my previous stubborn UTI's. On seeing the sample that I brought in she classed it as " a nice looking claret!" Okay, whatever you say.

She organised an appointment for me as an "urgent referral" to be seen by a urologist at our local hospital. This was to be the beginning of my cancer journey. I didn't know that yet, and it would take some time to discover, but that blood in my urine was about to make a great change in my life.

So please, please never ignore blood in your urine. Chances are it's just a bad UTI; however, there is also the rare possibility it could be something else. I was 52, and bladder cancer certainly wasn't on my radar. But boy am I glad I made that telephone call to my GP.

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