Pediatric Catheterization: Questions and Concerns

In the case of childhood catheterization the idea of "informed consent" raises a lot of potential hurdles. A child does not understand the things that an adult does, nor do they experience things as an adult would. "Explaining things carefully" may not actually address the needs of a child at their particular stage in development.

I have looked quite extensively, and have not been able to find any documentation of how this procedure can affect one's development, which on the one hand makes it difficult for me to understand my own experience, and on the other hand concerns me that medical professionals are not aware either. So what are the possible psychological, emotional, and sexual damage that can occur when they are performing a procedure these procedures on a pediatric patient?

I present myself as a case study. In my teen years I suffered from an anxiety disorder, which has now matured into a more focused post-trauma like disorder. I feel that being catheterized as a child contributed to these symptoms, though it is hard for me to know where the line is, because I can only compare myself to the few local friends I have who have had similar things done to them in childhood, and even they have had very different experiences on both the end of what was done to them at the hospital, and how they feel it affects their present life.

Of the people that I do know who have been through the medical system as children, some of them came out feeling that what was done to them was necessary and tolerable. Then there are others who do not feel this way, but instead feel that they have been violated or damaged, and feel that it has altered their psyche.

Some symptoms that I have heard reported are as follows:

1. Severe difficulty creating an appropriate connection with health care as an adult.
2. Conflicts with sexual identity.
3. Post-trauma symptoms such as avoiding something that they associate with their experience (which can really be anything and is very individual).
4. Not being in one's body / not having ownership of one’s body / who can and can not touch them. Which can mean:
-choosing not to be sexual
-extreme withdrawing from physical contact, or being excessively promiscuous, both due to power issues
-sexual encounters rarely being positive experiences
5. Fear or uncomfortable feelings around older people and/or authority figures, of the same gender. (the procedure having been done by a member of the same sex)
-Having negative reactions when a chosen partner starts initiating relations.

This is to name a few of the things I've seen in others. Each person is different and has their own experience. Each point I have listed above does apply to my own experience as well.

It is my desire that this be documented and that further study is done to look into what children need at different stages in development. There is plenty of psychology literature about how power issues play out differently for a child then an adult. I would be interested in knowing how people who have experienced this as a child, come to experience their sexuality as an adult. I would like to know if there are trends, see if my experience is different from people who have not experienced childhood catheterization.

Again: I feel it is important that medical staff be informed of the possible psychological, emotional, and sexual damage that can occur when doing this procedure on a child as opposed to an adult. I feel it is important that the focus in on that as oppose to making sure that everything is explained very carefully. Medical staff should be equip to make appropriate judgment calls, and prepare the child in an manner that is suitable to their stage in development.