What are my tips and tricks to using catheters?
- Try out new equipment. Knowing that it does or doesn’t work for you is important information.
- If I was starting from scratch again I think I would have trialled the mirror that you can attach to your leg so that you can see the urethral entrance.
- Overnight I use a 2l drainage bottle in a bucket; this reduces the need to get out of bed and thus reduces the number of transfers in a day.
How do I perform IC myself?
First I get set up:
- Wash and dry hands
- Transfer onto toilet. I often sit on the toilet sideways rather than with my back to the wall. This allows me to lean back far enough to better insert the catheter.
- I pull my pants down and position my legs.
- Set up my equipment.
Then I’m ready to perform IC:
- Use a wipe to clean the entrance of my urethra.
- Unwrap the top of a pre-lubricated catheter.
- Hold the catheter about ½ to 2/3 of the way up, and avoid the tip. I hold the catheter between my thumb and middle finger.
- Using the first and third fingers of the other hand to find the outer lips (labia) of the vulva and slide them towards the top. Holding the labia slightly apart, I then use the middle finger to mark the entrance of the urethra.
- I slide the catheter in slowly.
- As soon as I hear the trickle of urine on the water I stop moving the catheter and hold it in place. My aim is to have the tip of the catheter just inside the bladder.
- I use the last ring and little finger to touch my skin and act as a marker so that I can tell if the catheter is being pushed out by the contraction/collapsing of the bladder. I very gently resist this pressure. For me, I have found that this pressure usually means my bladder is about empty.
- I hold the catheter firmly between my thumb and middle finger.
- I use my first finger to gently push the tip of the catheter around if I can’t hear the urine hitting the water.
- When finished I gently slide the catheter out – in the same line that it was sitting in the bladder.
- Wrap up waste and put in the bin.
- Wash my hands.
How do I go out for the day?
When I go out I take either:
- SpeediCaths as I find them small and can therefore be taken in a hand bag easily
- Or I take a small wash bag (as you would take camping) that I call my “bladder bag” in which I store everything.
My bladder bag has:
- The bag itself comes with a mirror which I can use to do a skin check or to make sure I have fully cleaned myself in the event of a bowel accident
- Lubricated or non-lubricated catheters
- 100ml tube of lubricant
- Small packet of non-scented baby wipes
- Packet of “incognito” which are small, black bags for sanitary pads. I can dispose of the things I use in one of these bags. If there is no bin to can take the bag in my hand bag to dispose of later.
- Clean underwear in a small zip lock bag in case of small leakages. The bag can be used to store the wet underwear.
- Small (usually ultrathin as they take less space.) continence pads of two difference absorbency amount. (Usually a small and a super). They were also better at absorbing fluid when I had my period.
- If I have a bladder infection I also take a couple of sachets of Ural as I find it decreases the bladder irritation I feel
- Antiseptic hand wash in case there is no soap in the toilet (which happens a lot)
- Handful of gloves in another zip lock bag.
How do I travel long distances with catheters?
On long distance or international travel, I use an indwelling catheter. I find it is easier to empty.
I drink A LOT of water to help reduce the possibility of bladder infection.
I carry a 600ml bottle within a small bag to empty the drainage bag if I can’t find a toilet or the toilet is inaccessible. This reduces the number of transfers I need to do in a day as I do a lot more pushing when I travel.
What do I do if I get an infection?
Here’s what I do:
- Drink a LOT of water and therefore reduce the time between toilet visits
- Slow down my social calendar for a week or so
- Look at my diet and fatigue as, for me, a bowel accident with equal a bladder infection
- Use Ural to reduce bladder irritation and the urgency sensation
- Have my GP provide prepared urine specimen bottles and pathology slips so if I think I have an infection I can get the sample tested should I be unable to get a GP appointment when needed.
How do I stay healthy over the long term?
Plod. I used to be like a bull at a gate. I worked and played hard and fast. If I do that now I end up over-tired.
I do one, at best two social activities in a day where previously I would have squashed four into a day.
I also try to eat properly using prepared meals, and exercise regularly.
How does having my period affect my catheters?
I found that using pads when I had my period too messy when I then tried to clean myself prior to catheter insertion. So now I use tampons.