Two years ago, in June we were told Anya needed to have an operation to create a Mitrofanoff. Although we knew this would massively help her in the long run, it didn’t stop the worry and anxiety of another operation and how Anya would handle it.

What is a Mitrofanoff 

The Mitrofanoff procedure creates a channel into the bladder through which a catheter (thin, plastic tube) can be inserted to empty the bladder of urine, instead of passing urine through the urethra.

This channel – which looks like an extra tummy button – is usually referred to as a ‘Mitrofanoff’, and is created in an operation under general anaesthetic.

It allows the bladder to be emptied several times a day, reducing the chance of the bladder leaking urine. It can be psychologically easier and physically less uncomfortable to insert a catheter into the Mitrofanoff rather than the urethra.

It can also allow older children to lead a more normal life. The Mitrofanoff procedure is often used for children with bladder problems due to spina bifida, bladder exstrophy or bladder obstruction (posterior urethral valves).

Clothing, equipment and Mitrofanoff

At first, Anya wore a lot of dresses as we found that easier to tuck the indwelling catheter coming from her belly button into her boxer short type knickers, but as time went on we found she just wore anything she wanted. It was good to double up on the pants though so the catheter could be tucked in between the two.

Anya’s fear and getting through it

After Anya had the operation, the plan was to take the indwelling catheter out and learn how to intermittently catheter once everything had healed.

Anya had other ideas. As she has had so many different medical procedures, she was so scared to do the intermittent catheter after 24 hours the indwelling catheter had to be put back in. This needed changing every 12 weeks for infection purposes but each time we went Anya was petrified and what would have been a simple 10-minute procedure would take hours. Over the course of two years, we worked with a psychologist and many different techniques to see how Anya could overcome this fear.

Nothing seemed to be working until one day Anya decided herself to have the catheter out and go for a walk around the hospital. We decided to have a hot chocolate and that’s where Anya met Millie the therapy dog!! She instantly fell in love and her anxieties disappeared. When we got back to the room Anya decided she no longer wanted the indwelling catheter! It was a miracle; the only problem was we didn’t have any medical supplies at home to facilitate this.

We arranged a date for the week after and as soon as I got home, I contacted respond to order supplies – they were straight on the case and everything I needed was delivered asap.

The next week equipped with supplies we went back to hospital and had a celebration of 2 years hard work with special guest Millie the dog!

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