Trudy Triumph's Neurogenic Bladder Blog

Traveling with an Underactive Bladder

Dear Trudy and Friends of the Group,

Here we are planning to travel to Argentina where my dad waits for me; he is 92 years old. I am very anxious about it. It is my first time to travel with caths. Our plane travel will be very long, and to cross the Atlantic means 12 hours on the plane. I do cath “standard”, so they are the long ones, those which are made for men and not women, although a lot of women, like myself, use them. The question: can this be done in the tiny bathrooms on a plane? Sorry if I am so ignorant or lack imagination, but it is hard for me to see, under these circumstances. I have had to go through many technical problems with my cath!, but now I am doing very well. Thank you for any tip of information i can get from this wonderful group.
Thank you!
With love and hope,

Ana from Israel

 

Dear Ana,

Glad you are ready to consider travel. I think it’s an important step to taking charge of your life by doing the things you find important. I want to encourage you and assure you that it will be both a fun and exciting time for you and your Dad, and even more so with a little preparation and planning. I applaud you for having the foresight to reach out to the group. Several things come to mind for you to consider, as you prepare for your upcoming trip.

Pre-Trip: I always take an extra form for antibiotics and a pre-signed lab slip from my doctor, that allows me to get my urine tested to see what type of bug I am growing/susceptibility to antibiotics, etc., if an infection starts. A lot of times when we cath it leaves us prone to bladder infections and even if the doctor you visit at your destination will write his or her own lab slip, at least you have an example of what you need for them. This might be especially important when traveling to another continent!

Tips particularly regarding cathing:

I have found some major problems when flying the friendly skies. First obstacle, the automatic flush on the toilets in many international airports.  Sometimes, when reaching down to cath, I trigger the automatic flush. To avoid nasty water contaminating everything, I just hover above the seat and wait to start cathing, once all is clear again. Try hovering above the toilet at home to practice, because your catheter insertion point will likely be in a different location when using different toilets of varying heights, etc.  It is good to practice cathing at home with a short forced “intermission” before you cath, so you will be used to it and won’t get stressed on your trip. It’s important to be ready for whatever lies ahead.

TIP #2 – I have found that airplanes generally have short/low toilet seats in their lavatories. In fact, the first time I tried to use a catheter on an airplane I shot pee onto the floor because it flowed right out and under the short seat while I cathed. So, I want you to be prepared by expecting a likely short distance to work with, especially if you’re using the long catheter, and you will be fine.

TIP #3 – Bring plenty of catheters and pack/distribute them in different places throughout your luggage, so you have what you need in case your luggage is lost or, heaven forbid, stolen. I always thought that if that happened I could just go to a hospital for what I needed. But, that might take time, and when traveling, you can’t always be close to a major hospital. For the life of me I still find it hard to understand why drug stores don’t stock catheters and other “medical equipment”. But, I have been told that it is generally beyond the scope of their business, which caters to carrying merchandise they can easily move/sell. Crazy, Don’t you think? At any rate, it makes life inconvenient/more challenging for those of us who cath daily.

I AM sorry you only have men’s-size catheters at your disposal. There are some really small practical catheters on the market that work great for a woman’s ureter. The one I use is called Speedicath, manufactured by Coloplast. It may not work for your trip, depending on your timeline, but why don’t you email Coloplast directly and see if there are sales reps in your area? You can review the information on this website: https://www.coloplast.com/contact/coloplast-israel1/. Of course, you will need a prescription to get things started with a new supplier. You could possibly have what you need mailed to you. (That’s how I receive my catheters). There is also a new product called Compactcath. This catheter is suitable for both men and women. See more at: http://www.compactcath.com/. Both catheters are pre-lubricated and sterile, and you can easily fit several in your pocket, zipper-pouch bag or purse.

Final TIP #4 – I always carry extra clothes and keep plastic zip-lock (self-closure) bags and wet-wipes on hand, at all times, in case of bladder/bowel mishaps. If you have what you need, your trip will be carefree and you will enjoy peace of mind.

Have fun on your trip, Ana.

How about the rest of you. Any additional trip tips for Ana you’d like to add?

3 Responses to “Traveling with an Underactive Bladder”

  1. Reply Chris

    Two thoughts:

    (1) I recently switched to a closed system catheter with a collection bag attached to the tube. It allows me to cath anywhere and is a big advantage in difficult bathroom situations.

    (2) I’ve heard of people cathing into a ziplock bag and then draining it into the toilet. Obviously this has to be done carefully (!) but it could be helpful while traveling if the toilet arrangements aren’t user-friendly.

  2. Reply Susan B.

    Hello Ana,
    I too, have travelled with all my equipment. I have found that the long catheters are my best friend when it comes to cathing on an airplane, or avoiding the spray on those automatic flushing toilets. I use my short female ones when I get to my destination. If possible, I seek out the washrooms that are designated for handicapped people, they have a little more forgiving space in them. Do get a prescription to take with you, just in case. I packed all of my supplies in my carry on luggage and what I needed for the airport and plane trip. I am fortunate that I can get my catheters here at a local medical supply outlet, so I stock up before I go on a trip. Coloplast is good about sending out samples to try first. I use baby wipes for cleaning and fortunately they come in travel size packs as well. I also carry a note or letter from my Doctor, because they want to see what is in the bag at airport security. As Trudy suggested, do some practice work at home hovering over that toilet, with those long catheters you don’t have to hover so close, you can practically stand up. You will do just fine and enjoy your trip.
    Hope this helps

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