This post was made in association with CompactCath, a company that specializes in producing convenient, portable catheters that are perfect when on-the-go.
What is CompactCath?
CompactCath is a revolutionary, pocket-sized intermittent catheter, designed at Stanford University by both physicians and catheter users alike. The entire catheter will fit in the palm of your hand and is all-in-one, no extra pieces required. CompactCath is pre-lubricated with silicone oil that has proven antimicrobial properties. It also has a drainage control that gives users more control over where and when they drain.. Its unique wheel-like design, plastic case, and protective sheath make CompactCath both extremely portable, and very hygienic..
How do I manage this new process?
You’ve been taught to intermittently catheterize (IC) which means two things. First, you’re probably jumping with joy about not having to be in retention all the time. Secondly, you’re going to have to work out how this new process fits into your life.
For me, IC was wonderfully freeing. When I first started, the scope of my world grew dramatically. I could now handle long journeys, stay over at people’s houses and travel abroad, without having to worry that my bladder would give up on life and I’d have to rush to the hospital. On the other hand, IC has the tendency to be clumsy, inconvenient and potentially messy – especially when you aren’t used to it. The newfound freedom is fantastic, but the possibility of having to manage catheterization out-and-about can be daunting, to say the least.
Fortunately, you aren’t the first to overcome this obstacle. With a bit of expert advice, you can circumvent the pitfalls of catheterizing in public, and re-embrace your life to the fullest.
Your Personal Catheter Kit!
Does catheterizing in public give you nightmares about performing contortionist tricks while being rammed into a tiny cubicle?
Or manically rummaging through your bag to find a loose catheter while you’re desperate to go? Well don’t fear, a handy, compact catheter kit is the solution to your problems. Find a small, cute bag – one that could easily masquerade as a makeup bag or pencil case – and fill it with the following items.
Aim for a travel-friendly brand like CompactCath, so you can fit a good handful in your bag. The last thing you want is to be worrying about running out when you’re traveling.
Particularly if you’re a new user, navigating the IC process can be tricky, as you can’t always get the best view of your urethra. Combine this with a cramped toilet cubicle, and you have a recipe for potential disaster. The easiest solution is to get yourself a small mirror with a stand so you can place it on the edge of the toilet. Then, you can sit down like usual and complete the process with minimal fuss. Just be sure to get a mirror than stands up, as IC can often require two hands.
Infection is not your friend. Getting a UTI will make your life incredibly more difficult. Having an antibacterial gel on hand will reduce your risk and increase hygiene level considerably. Plus, sometimes you won’t be able to access a sink to wash your hands beforehand, so having a backup is invaluable.
It’s helpful to remember that IC is a medical procedure, so sterilization is essential. Since public bathrooms aren’t always the cleanest places, having as many tools on hand as possible will massively help you out. A pack of wet wipes can be easily stored and whipped out whenever you need to sanitize the area – or yourself!
Numbing Gel (Optional)
Some people struggle with the pain of catheterizing. If you already have trouble, then it’s not going to get any easier when you’re in unfamiliar settings. Numbing gel helps to ensure a pain-free process; sometimes it’s just comforting to know that you have it on hand. If you already worry about the discomfort, then add some to your kit.
No-one wants to be the person who smells like urine. We all know that catheterization is nothing to be embarrassed about, but we still don’t want to carry around a pungent reminder of that fact. If your aim is off or you get a bit messy clearing up, then having a spray to cover the smell will resolve your issues.
Especially if you’re traveling abroad, you can’t guarantee there will be a bin to dispose of your used catheter when you’re finished. If you end up having to shove it back in your bag until you find somewhere, you want to make sure it doesn’t make a mess. Plastic sandwich bags are cheap and waterproof, making them an ideal choice. So you’ve made your kit. You’re all packed and ready to go. Time to try out your nomadic IC skills
Now you’ve mastered catheterizing in public, you might feel brave enough to venture further afield. In fact, a trip abroad to celebrate may be in order! IC overseas is pretty much the same, but there are some added notes.
LETTER FROM DOCTOR
Personally, I’ve never had problems traveling with catheters, but you always have to be careful with medical equipment. The worst case scenario is that they’re taken off you at security, and you’re left without for your trip. Fortunately, this can be easily remedied with some documentation. If you get a prescription, then make sure you bring it with you – and that it matches the name and address on your passport. If not, then you can ask for a letter from your Doctor that confirms your medical needs. When I first started, I was given a booklet explaining my condition that I now always travel with.
The other important factor is travel insurance. It’s more expensive to get coverage with health conditions. However, if you don’t disclose that you IC regularly, then it could void the policy altogether. It’s understandable that you want to get the cheapest option possible, but it’s taking a big risk if you decide to hide your catheterizing.
Fortunately, many insurance companies exist that offer cover specifically for people with long-term health conditions. It’s still a little pricier, but the policies are still affordable and will provide you cover for any problems that might arise from your IC while away.
Fortunately, CompactCath doesn’t include liquid like some other catheter brands, so you won’t have to worry about getting it through Airport security. That being said, I still recommend pulling someone aside to let them know you have it, and that you would like them to be discreet if they insist on inspection. The company actually provides a “TSA notification card” to their customers for this very reason!
Catheterise with Confidence
IC can be inconvenient, but it should never stop you from living your life. Many people feel hesitant to travel and adventure when they’re tied to a medical procedure. However, the reality is that you can be ill anywhere! I hope this post has quelled some of your anxieties about cathetersing in public, and that you can use these tips to make the experience run smoothly. If you have any more ideas that could help others with IC, then be sure to leave a comment below!