Tips for Living With a Catheter

Tips for Living With a Catheter

Living & Loving with Prostate Cancer

After your prostatectomy you are sent home with a catheter. Most men receive two bags. The first is a large bag for overnight usage. The second is a leg bag for daytime use. The leg bag is smaller and needs to be emptied a few times in the course of your day. An embarrassing incident led me to part company with my leg bag.

On that fateful day, I was at the mall shopping. During this outing I went to a bathroom to check the urine level on my leg bag. The bag was almost full, so I pulled down my pants and started to drain the bag. Unfortunately, I missed the toilet, spilling most of the urine on my pants. When I pulled up my pants, I discovered I had a huge, noticeable wet spot in the front of my jeans. I was humiliated and ashamed, so I decided I’d stay in the stall for the next five hours, until the mall closed.

As I reached for my phone to call my wife, I discovered I forgot to take my cell phone with me. This meant I had no way of telling my wife where I was, what happened, and what I intended to do. Against my will, I left the bathroom stall and walked through the mall to meet my wife at our prearranged place. My walk through the mall in urine-soaked jeans was my walk of shame. I never used my leg bag again.

I purchased a pair of baseball pants with snaps on the side. I ran the tubing through the space between the snaps and put my overnight catheter bag into an opaque shopping bag, which I held by my side. By using my overnight bag in the daytime, I could sit through a movie, a concert, or any other event without needing to check the urine level in the bag. If the shopping bag got heavy, or the opportunity presented itself, I’d go into a stall and empty the bag into the toilet. This was a convenient and worry-free way to live with and travel with my catheter. At bedtime, I found sleeping in a recliner was much easier and more comfortable than sleeping in bed.

You’ll want to do everything possible to prevent an infection:

  • Never place your bag higher than your bladder.
  • Prevent kinks or blockages in your tubing at all times.
  • Follow all sterile techniques you were shown at the hospital, including a thorough hand-washing every time you change bags or clean your catheter.
  • If you experience painful bladder spasms, call your urologist, There are medications that effectively stop spasms.

Here’s a link for additional information: Caring For Your Catheter

Note: Prostate Cancer News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Prostate Cancer News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to prostate cancer.

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Rick Redner received his master’s degree in social work from Michigan State University. He has spent many years working as a medical and psychiatric social worker He is the author of the award winning book I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours? His second book Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Erectile Dysfunction and Penile Implants won the Beverly Hills International Book Awards in Men's Health in 2016.

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