What are my tips and tricks to using IC?
If you can transfer to the toilet, it will save you so much time, money and cleaning up! For me, it was the hardest, scariest thing I had to learn in rehab, but it’s also the most useful skill!
How do I perform IC?
I transfer to the toilet to do my IC. I have to sit back further than usual, so I can fit both hands between my legs. I go by feel, so I hold my catheter in my dominate hand, and use the other hand to guide it.
How do I go to the pub with I’m using IC?
I drive. For me, it makes no real difference. I’m not a big drinker and I have a pretty skinny chair, so I can generally get into most bathrooms, even if they don’t have wheelchair access.
How do I have sex when I’m using IC?
I use IC, so I don’t have a catheter in unless I’m going to the bathroom. I don’t tend to have sex on the toilet, so it doesn’t affect my sex life at all. I just make sure I go to the bathroom beforehand, because I don’t have any control and it can be difficult to know when I need to go sometimes. I find its better to just go before, rather than risk peeing on my partner.
Can I do IC if I’m pregnant?
Yes. I actually found that my bladder requirements were the same throughout my pregnancy. I was concerned before that I might struggle when I got a big belly, but I was able to continue through my whole pregnancy.
How do I go out for the day?
The only thing I’d say about going out is to be aware of bathroom availability. If you’re going somewhere with no toilets at all, it can be awkward. I have found in a real emergency I can sit on the side of the doorway in my car, or sitting right on the front of my chair. In this case, I would use a SpeediCath, because they are less bendy. It tends to make a bit of a mess, but less than wetting myself and it’s better than dysreflexia. It all comes out in the wash!
How do I Travel with IC/IDC/SPC?
I have driven around Australia and done a fair bit of flying. Flying: most planes have an aisle chair on board and staff are usually happy to help you to the bathroom. Driving, again it is a matter of knowing where bathrooms are. I’ve also found a camping toilet to be a handy investment, for cases when a normal bathroom is not available.
Am I stuck with my first choice?
I have done IC since I learnt in rehab, but I know a SPC was also an option if I was having issues. If you have good hand control, I’d suggest giving IC a go, because it gives you so much flexibility.
What do I do if I get an infection?
If I know I have an infection, I always head straight to the doctor for antibiotics. I try to get lots of rest and to drink lots of water, Ural and cranberry juice.
My main symptom for a UTI is incontinence, however I have learnt over the years this isn’t always due to a UTI. If I’m really tired, my Ditropan doesn’t work. So it’s worth keeping that in mind, if you’re on Ditropan. These days, if I’m having continence issues, I start with lots of sleep before heading to the doctor, unless I have another reason to think it is a UTI.
What’s the best equipment available?
I like to keep some SpeediCaths on hand, but my main product is Cliny’s HerCath. This is a reusable catheter, that looks like a tube of mascara, so it’s very discrete. They are about $50 each and the manufacturer recommends they are replaced monthly. I usually use them for about 3 months, but I had one I used for close to 6 months though without issue. I simply put fresh Milton solution in it each evening. There is only a very small amount of solution in each catheter, so you need to be quite careful you don’t make the solution too strong, as it could damage your urethra.
These days, I spend about $200 a year on catheters, instead of thousands on single use catheters.
How do I stay healthy over the long term?
I haven’t had any bladder health issues for years. Basically, I just use good hand hygiene and try to drink lots of water. I try to listen to what my body is trying to tell me. It took me about 5 years to learn my new signals, but these days, I can tell pretty accurately when I need to go to the bathroom.
Other tips and advice
Any newbies out there, it does get better. It can be quite tricky when you first start with IC. For a lot of women their urethra is not something they’ve ever needed to think about much. I know it took me a while to get the hang of it, to learn where everything was. I sent lots of catheters up my vagina by accident. But it does get easier. One day, you will be climbing back into bed and you will realise that you just went to the toilet half asleep and you did it all without thinking about any of it. One day it will be just as easy and mindless as it was before your accident. And if you can manage IC, it will do a lot for your self-confidence.