A woman has detailed the horror she has suffered after she woke up one day unable to urinate - now she's lived through two years of hell.

In December 2018, Anna Rachel Gray woke up one night to go to the bathroom, but she was unable to pee. Today, she still can't.

Gray has since been diagnosed with Fowler's Syndrome, a rare condition that means she retains urine and is unable to pass it.

The bladder's sphincter muscle fails to relax, meaning urine is trapped inside.


Gray, from Bath, UK, says she had been perfectly fine until she woke up one morning unable to pass urine.

"The previous day had been completely fine! The first symptom was that I couldn't wee – no matter how hard I tried and then, despite drinking water regularly, sitting in the bath for prolonged periods of time and listening to the sound of running water, I was unable to go," she told Metro.

24 hours later she called her doctor who gave her laxatives. But five days later she was still unable to pee.

Despite numerous attempts to tell doctors laxatives weren't the answer, they continued to say they couldn't see any alternative options.

On the fifth day she went to A&E where she struggled to persuade doctors something was wrong.

By this stage Gray struggled to walk due to the pain and her bladder was extremely sore and was pressing on other organs causing a lot of pain.

After scans it was found she had 1 litre of urine in her bladder and was catheterised.

Gray says the pain was like childbirth.


"I've never had children but the only way I could describe the pain was like I was in labour and being stabbed in the bladder.

"Usually your bladder has a maximum capacity of around 500/600ml comfortably and so I had almost four times that when I was eventually catheterised."

Ten months later, she was finally diagnosed with Fowler's Syndrome.

She now has to have a permanent catheter in so she can go to the bathroom, and has it changed every two weeks.

Unfortunately, it means Gray suffers a lot of infections and her dating and sex life has been put on hold due to her condition and the catheter.

The strain of Fowler's Syndrome has caused Gray's mental health to deteriorate and she was soon admitted to a mental health hospital where she stayed for three months.


She had previously worked as a healthcare assistant on psychiatric wards but says none of it prepared her for being a patient.

She told Metro being monitored 24 hours a day made her self-conscious, especially with her Fowler's Syndrome.

"I broke down in tears – all I wanted was to be allowed home but here I was, legally stuck in the hospital and knew that the police would bring me back should I try to leave.

"All of a sudden the cards were flipped – I was on one-to-one care for most of my time in the general hospital and had no bathroom privacy at all.

"I found this difficult for two reasons I guess – the first one being that I struggle with my body image a lot and so having to be watched in the shower was something I found really hard."

Gray is since out and doing well, and says she has learned it is okay to ask for help.


Fowler's Syndrome affects young women. Up to half with this syndrome have polycystic ovaries.

Gray hopes sharing her experience will help other Fowler's Syndrome suffers gain control of their mental health and be able to access the support networks around them.