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The Duct-Taped Catheter Bag
June 28, 2017 – Laura Yeager

The Duct-Taped Catheter Bag

I'd seen pathetic belongings before, but this was ridiculous...
PUBLISHED June 28, 2017
As well as being a cancer blogger, Laura Yeager is a religious essayist and a mental health blogger. A graduate of The Writers’ Workshop at The University of Iowa, she teaches writing at Kent State University and Gotham Writers’ Workshop. Laura survived cancer twice.
Plants I’ve killed
My old stuffed giraffe with the missing ear and eyes
A bad cancer wig I tried to trim
A pair of sandals that my puppy chewed
A 25-year-old Teflon pan, minus the Teflon
Dried roses from a boy who said I was his second choice for a prom date
 
What do all of these things have in common? They are some of the most pathetic things I’ve ever owned.
 
But recently, I’ve possessed something even more pathetic. In fact, it’s the most pathetic thing I’ve ever owned.
 
You see, I recently had a hysterectomy and the surgeon accidentally cut my bladder. She sewed it up and fitted me with a catheter and a catheter bag which I had to wear for two weeks while the bladder wound healed. Everything was fine until week two when the bag sprung a leak. We called drug stores to try to find a replacement bag, but this was to no avail. We had no other choice but to cover the leaky plastic bag with duct tape.
 
This, friends, the duct-taped urine bag, is the most pathetic thing I’ve ever owned. And I had to carry it with me everywhere I went.
 
It was embarrassing. It was humbling. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, right?
 
Now, the backstory.
 
I’d had two bouts of breast cancer, and that wasn’t fun.
 
Recently, one day, I had to have my yearly gynecologic exam. The doctor did a pap and an ultrasound of a fibroid that she’d been following for a few years. Fibroids, I’m told, can be ignored if they’re not growing, but if they’re getting larger, they are sometimes removed in case they’re cancerous. Well, my fibroid was growing and two more had sprung up. The doc and I discussed the issue and she advised me that since I’d had a history of cancer, I should consider having a hysterectomy and have everything removed. She also explained that there was no way to biopsy the fibroids in my uterus, so taking out the organ was probably a good idea.
 
Long story short, I did it. The doctor removed the uterus, the ovaries, the tubes and the cervix – anything that might become cancerous in the future.
 
I have to admit, I was scared again. Were the fibroids cancerous? Did I have cancer yet a third time?
 
Everything was biopsied, and it all came back benign. No cancer!
 
The only downsides of the experience were the incredible pain and not being able to drive.
 
Oh, and of course, the duct-taped urine bag which was my constant companion for two weeks.
 
Some smart person once said, “If I didn’t laugh, I’d cry.”
 
This is how I felt about sporting the ugly bag filled with yellow pee bound together with ugly silver duct tape.
 
By the way, if you’re wondering, duct tape can fix anything.
 
When we have cancer (or think we have cancer), there are horrible things we have to endure. (And duct-taped catheter bags are only minor inconveniences.)  But if we hold on tight and keep our chins up, we may endure the indignity of the disease.
 
Let us remember this.
 
PS: Ladies and gentlemen, just so you know, I didn’t carry the pee bag around completely exposed. I put it in a purse so that no one could see the pathetic shape it was in.
 
I do have some class.
 
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