Condoms. Everyone has encountered them in the course of life, most often during sex, when they play a key role in protecting against the transmission of venereal diseases and unwanted conception. But the internet is also full of videos of alternative uses – from condom slingshots to emergency canteen replacements. In all these situations, we have one key requirement for a condom. It has to be perfect. But what if there’s a condom that’s deliberately leaky so that everything can come out of it in the process?
I met Mr. Petr on a Facebook group called “Wheelchair users and the handicapped”, where he answered my call. For my article I was looking for a user of the urinary condom catheter. “A urinary condom is a disposable self-adhesive device. In contrast to a normal condom, it has a hole at the top from which a tube leads to a urinary bag attached to the leg,” Mr. Petr says.
Diapers are not a pleasant solution
“I have been on a wheelchair since 1992. I failed to jump into the pool then,” he answered my next question quite naturally. Soon, however, he opened a more serious chapter in his life. It has to do with the fact that almost all spinal fracture patients have problems urinating. “When I was in rehab, I wore diapers. This is a very uncomfortable thing for a young man. That’s why I was looking for a different way to deal with the situation.“
“When one is in a small town without a major hospital, doctors often don’t know all the options well. That’s when fellow patients are the biggest help,” says Mr. Petr, explaining how he came to get urinary condoms.
Better to insert than to retract
In addition to diapers and urinary condoms, there is also the option of “catheterisation” for patients with voiding disorders. In this case, the patient inserts a single-use urinary catheter into the bladder several times a day, through which the urine drains spontaneously. However, Mr. Petr does not use this option. “The advantage of the urinal condom over catheterisation is that there is no risk of urinary tract infection. Moreover, it is disposable, hygienic and completely inconspicuous.The urinary bag can be discharged anywhere, even without the presence of a toilet.“
It won’t hurt your self-esteem
From the technicalities, our conversation moves to a more personal level. I’m interested in how a person can cope with the fact that they have to use this type of equipment permanently. “This hasn’t been a problem at all. It’s a thing that really helps me. In terms of confidence and self-esteem, it hasn’t had any effect on me. It’s a quick and intuitive thing that my life would be rather worse without.“
Another aspect of this disability is the public’s view of it. However, in this case too, Mr. Petr refutes my fears. “People sometimes have questions they are afraid to ask; how do I go to the toilet and so on. But mostly no one really addresses it,” he says. “And if I need help, for example, to empty my urine bag, I ask someone I know is a paramedic for help.” After a short pause, he adds: “If I had to constantly imagine people’s reactions, how they will and won’t accept it, I would do nothing.“
Life goes on
Urinary condom catheters are used by men all over the world. Interestingly, this issue is not just about men with injuries and incontinence. “At first I had a problem because the condom didn’t stick to my penis. I investigated the possible cause with the manufacturer, but to no avail. On thematic websites I learned that it is good to cleanse the skin of the root of the penis with alcohol before use. But apart from that, I also found out that urinary condoms are also used by sportmen who don’t have the opportunity to urinate during a race; car racers or divers.” adds Mr. Petr with a small smile.
After this answer, we say goodbye and Mr. Petr returns to his job as a director of a non-profit organization. Although he is in a wheelchair, outside of his job he also serves as a councillor in his city and lives a social life. As he says, “If you were active before the accident, you will be active after the accident.” This, too, is proof that the quality of life does not depend on what disability you have in life, but on how you can deal with it.