You know the drill.
The nurse hands you a tiny cup lined with your personal identification numbers scribbled on a white stretch of tape.
You stare at the markings on the side of this cup, wondering how you’ll ever be able to fill it and why you didn’t drink more water before your appointment.
While physicians and patients often refer to it as a “necessary evil” of treatment, the dreaded urine test can be a source of humiliation, discomfort and frustration for many.
Urine tests can be traumatic for young children, the elderly and overweight patients, said Cherie House, a Nokesville resident of more than 25 years.
Each influenced her pursuit to invent, patent and market Tru-Catch, a medical instrument designed to better collect urine and stool samples from varying types of patients.
The product was officially launched this month at the Prince William Hospital.
The hospital is a sentimental place of “firsts” for House. It is where she gave birth to her first child, and also where she worked in her first job in 1975.
House wanted to show the product to Prince William before marketing it elsewhere, she said.
It was presented to a product review committee comprised of more than a dozen nurses and hospital administrators, who might later decide to further evaluate and sample the product in the hospital, said Nat Arango, a Tru-Catch spokesman.
The committee looked favorably on the product, he said.
“The products committee evaluated the Tru-Catch product and they decided to test it in ERjr. (the pediatric emergency room) and the Pediatric Unit,” said Mary Beth Gibson, Prince William Hospital spokeswoman.
Tru-Catch has two prominent features. It has an outer frame that fits between the rim of standard toilets and a multi-directional bowl-like structure that measures 28 oz, and holds 32 oz.
It is completely disposable yet designed to be easily cleaned and is dishwasher-safe, if reused.
Because Tru-Catch rests under the toilet seat, it can more effectively collect a clean sample, free of the contamination that often occurs when patients hold a cup, said House.
This feature seems to be the solution for young children, pregnant women and the elderly, all patients who tend to have physical difficulties using a cup.
Connie Wright recently tried Tru-Catch and dubbed it “the best thing since apple pie.
“A man must have invented the cup system. Imagine being pregnant trying to bend over an itty-bitty cup to do a clean catch,” Wright said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
Wright has three children with only three years between the youngest, 12 and eldest, 15.
“Needless to say, I had to use that cup many times during my pregnancies,” she said.
Wright is especially confident that Tru-Catch will be effective for children.
Her eldest daughter was traumatized as a young girl as she was catheterized during a urinary track infection, said Wright.
“Self-consciously you don’t want to go when you have to hold a cup, especially young girls. They just won’t do it,” said Wright. “With the Tru-Catch, you don’t even know it’s there, you never have to touch anything.”
Dominique Travis, 11, also prefers to use Tru-Catch after testing it recently.
“It’s so much easier than holding a cup. It was cleaner and faster. I didn’t get nervous before using it,” she said.
House recognized the obvious need for a more efficient method of taking urine samples during one of her many work experiences.
“I’ve had 17 jobs over the past 20 years,” said House, laughing along with her husband. With five children ranging in age from 5 to 22 years old, House’s career path was directed by her children’s schedules.
Her wide array of work experience extends over years in jobs such as an assistant in a local nursing home, a custom cake baker recognized in the October 2000 edition of Bridal Magazine and a courtroom clerk.
Her efforts have led her to the founding of her company, Cherie Enterprises, LLC and a network of contacts and hands-on training that directed the path of inventing Tru-Catch.
“The whole process was such a remarkable experience. Everything just seemed to fall in place,” she said. “It seemed as if we were always at the right place at the right time.”
For months House busied herself with design sketches, manufacturer’s molds and price quotes. Whether she was at a baseball game during her family vacation or at work at the local Giant grocery store, plans of the Tru-Catch were at the tip of her tongue.
“I’m not a very shy person, I just start talking to people wherever I go,” said House.
Her outgoing and warm personality may have made people feel more comfortable when giving her feedback about urine samples.
“I was brought up in a house where we just didn’t say the word ‘pee’,” she said. “When all this first started, my family was embarrassed to talk about, but now we’re all so used to it. We say the word ‘pee’ as if its water,” said House.
House hopes her product will better satisfy patients, she said.
“Ultimately, it’s the patients who benefit from this product. They will notice a great difference,” she said.
Tru-Catch will help restore patient dignity and comfort while preventing spillage and accidents caused by the cup system of collecting urine samples, she said.
For David Simons, 36 and a cerebral palsy patient, Tru-Catch is a welcomed means to maintain his dignity.
“I loved it because for the first time, I was able to get my own private specimen by myself. Before, I had to have my mom and dad help me,” he said.
His mother Liz Simons adds her experience of being on a wheel chair after a knee surgery last year.
“I can’t imagine how I would have used the cup if I had to take a urine test in the weeks after my knee surgery. I couldn’t put any pressure on my knee,” she said.
House may market her product to other health care providers in the future.
She hopes Tru-Catch will one day be recognized on national television programs like Good Morning America and Oprah Winfrey, and will also one day win the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, she said.