December 27th, 2004

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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The Catheter

By Jack Whitman

It was the spring of 1996 when I started fly-fishing. I started out very conservatively using an old fly rod given to me by my father-in-law, a reel that even Pflueger couldn't identify, and some line that I'm sure was older than my adult children.

I did purchase a pair of inexpensive neoprene waders and some flies from the local fly shop.

With all the confidence I could muster I went to the nearest river and mimicked what I had observed real fly fisherman doing. I put on my waders, strung my rod, and put this cute little fly on the end of the line. I am good to go. What I wasn't aware of about myself was that moving water going across my legs scared the day lights out of me. After about an hour of holding onto some nearby branches, losing three flies and catching nothing I decided this was not for me.

After contemplating this dilemma of the moving water for several weeks, I figured that a small creek would suit me much better, boy was I surprised that even ankle to calf high water gave me the same uncomfortable sensation the river did.

Well, I have very little invested in this experience, so I chalked it up to another idea that wasn't very good and got on with my summers activities. In late August of that same year, my wife bought me a U-boat, you know an inner tube type of floatation device that is open in the front and you sit in for fishing in lakes. Not wanting to disappoint her about my gift I gathered my meager fly-fishing equipment together the next Saturday and went to a nearby urban lake and to my utter surprise, I caught three fish. WOW, this was the most fun I had ever had. I was able to fish that little lake several times that summer and fall and by the first snow, I was hooked on still water fly-fishing.

One of the problems with still water fly-fishing in a U-boat is that you sit in the water above your kidneys and when the waters cold it makes you have to go to the bathroom, a lot. There seemed to be no solution to this problem.

The winter of 96-97 was one of the worst snow years the Pacific Northwest had ever experienced; this is not good for the back but does give a lot of opportunity for reading, which I did. I read anything and everything that I could find on stillwater fly fishing and I started fly tying that winter.

One of the articles I read stated that for middle-aged men with prostate problems that the use of an external catheter would extend the time you were in the water fishing. You know, not having to get out of the water every 30 minutes to go to the bathroom. In all my reading that winter that was the best and most practical advice I had read.

It was about the middle of February when I decided I would leave work early and go fishing at the lake. There was still about a foot of snow on the ground but there was a half -acre section of the lake that was free of ice. On the way home, I stopped at the Medical Supply store, which is the only place you can buy an external catheter. For whatever reason these types of stores only employ women, which under normal circumstances wouldn't be a problem, but this item has to be purchased by size.

I take my purchase home and prepare for my afternoon of fishing. I open the package and remove the catheter and the accompanying bag, read the instructions and attach all parts to my body. The instructions were very clear, stating that, "If catheter is to be worn for an extended period of time a water soluble lubricant should be applied between catheter and skin". Well, I'm only going to be gone for an hour or two so the lubricant shouldn't be necessary. I then encase my body in several layers of clothes and pry myself into my waders. I have so many clothes on I look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and I find driving is difficult but I manage to get to the lake. I grab my fly rod, U-boat and fins out of the pickup and start tromping through the snow to the unfrozen part of the lake.

I fished for almost an hour when the inevitable call of nature happened, but I was prepared. The freedom that my external catheter gave me was wonderful and I knew this was the answer to my many previous concerns. I was very surprised when after 20 minutes of fishing my leg and foot were feeling damp. I was sure the pressure from the waders had put undue pressure on the bag and it had sprung a leak. This seemed like a good time to go home. Upon removing the waders and all the clothing, I removed the offending bag from my leg, discovering the manufacturer had not shut the drain valve off all the way. Now I am ready to remove the actual catheter portion. When I had read the instructions prior to attaching the catheter, I had read but not comprehended that it had also said that the catheter was "SELF ADHESIVE." My, oh my, this turned out to be a major problem. As it turns out the only way to remove it is to cut it off my body. After a couple of weeks of healing I am prepared to try his external catheter thing again, but this time I'm ready with some lubricant to place between the catheter and skin. It seems that I may have been a little over zealous to not experience the same fate I had experienced a few weeks earlier and I may have applied just a bit to much lubricant because I still ended up with a wet foot.

The packaging for the catheter came with three catheters and one bag; needless to say I still have one catheter in my dresser drawer as a remembrance of this experience. ~ Jack

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