With DS 2 the epidural worked wonderful. With DD1 (five weeks ago) epidural worked but at the end of labour the epidural only paralized half of my body, i felt the pain on one side of my body. Girl let me tell you something, when you at 5 cm you WILL ask for an epidural, 7 cm will be tooooo late!!!!!!! Yes with both epidurals i had a catheter, but luckily you don't feel it, cause they give it after the epidural. It's very irritating.
with DS 2 the epidural was painless, with my girl i felt the needle and there was times i screamed!!! But with DS 2 the side effects (after a week) was terrible, terrible head aches and back pains!!!! With DD no head aches and no back pain.
In other words, the two epidurals i had differ night and day. definately not the same and it will definately differ with each and every girl.
good luck with whatever you decide!