Wearing a catheter creates a range of logistical issues that will result in different levels of pain and a lot of potential frustration for patients. The pain and frustration can be mitigated by establishing a plan of action for walking, lying down, eating, sleeping and, if you find it comfortable enough, sitting.
The following information is provided to assist you in preparing for and managing this challenging component of your prostate cancer recovery journey.
SECURING THE CATHETER TO YOUR BODY:
To minimize issues, you will need to make sure the catheter hose is secure and stable on your leg. The patches were placed on your leg without taking your anatomy into account. You may decide that the catheter would be more comfortable and secure by being placed higher, lower, or on your other leg, there is no problem making the change, as long as it is secure. Be especially aware of the hose and/or patch coming loose when changing your clothes or moving around, especially walking.
Patient Insight: The catheter is constructed to always flow into the bag. AS LONG AS the bag is lower than your body there will be no problem. The hose can even be in a U shape!
Set-up and secure the hose and bag for safety to make sure there is no accidental tripping or pulling when you roll over during your sleeping. There are three criteria to make sure that urine will flow to the bag properly when you are in bed:
The bag must be below the body position
The bag cannot lay directly on the floor. Putting it in a waste bin or bucket will stabilize it.
The hose cannot be crimped.
STABILIZING THE CATHETER AND HOSE:
It is important to stabilize the hose for safety. Flow can become restricted if the hose gets crimped, which can result in a dangerous back flow of urine. The cord itself can also become a trip hazard. Consider using Velcro strips to attach it to an anchor, ie. small table, chair, bed stand, etc. which will allow you to easily detach the hose from the anchor when moving from one location to another.
Having absorbent pads, old rags, sanitary wipes, paper towels and Kleenex available at all times is critical. Even with the catheter in, urine will often dribble when you lie down or stand up. You should be prepared to deal with clean-up when you get out of bed, when you stand after sitting, standing after having a bowel movement, when brushing your teeth, eating, etc.
Keeping your body and floors clean is vital.
Be prepared to shower multiple time a day for the first few weeks.
Using healing Antibiotic Ointment and Salve Ointment on the penis tip throughout the day will help to mitigate chafing.
Do not use Antibiotic Ointment or Salve Ointment on your stitches.
Make sure the empty spout is directly over toilet bow when emptying your urine bag.
You will need to empty the urine bag every few hours during the night!
CATHETER TUBE PAIN:
The Perineum & Sitting: The catheter tube was inserted during the surgery (most likely the Foley catheter). The catheter tube passes from the bladder, through the end of your penis, and into a catheter bag. One area the hose passes over is the Perineum, basically the floor of your torso between your legs. I was not aware of the Perineum (pair-ah-née-um) before the surgery, but became quite aware of it during recovery. The catheter tube presses directly against the Perineum when you sit (or attempt to sit), causing a great deal of pressure to an already tender spot. Whether sitting in a hard or soft chair, sitting up straight, at an angle, on a pillow, donut-pillow, or a stool, you can expect to be uncomfortable.
You may find your best option is to transition between lying down and standing. I was unable to sit for the entire time the catheter was in , plus experienced residual pain for three weeks after the catheter was removed.
Tip of the Penis: The tip of the penis can become tender and irritated from movement, due to the gravitational pull on the tube. Using healing Antibiotic Ointments, Salve Ointments and Pain Relief medicine ointments can help you manage the catheter issues.
Putting on clothes while wearing catheter needs to be approached with care. Slip the catheter bag from the top of your pants/underwear down through the corresponding leg as the leg strap is attached.
Your may find it more comfortable to be in a bed, a sofa, or a reclining chair, but get used to sleeping on your back, or on one side, until catheter is removed. Some patients indicate they were able sleep on their stomach. A knee pad and wedge pillow can help. A reclining chair has been recommended as a great option for sleeping.
Expect dribble from the catheter tube/ penis area during and after bowel movements. Have paper towels readily available for the floor and self-cleaning.
Patient Insight: It will take from 4-6 days after surgery until your body is ready to allow you to have a bowel movement. The first and second bowel movements will most likely be hard as a rock. Make sure to take the stool softeners daily. Bowel movements will get easier after a while. You may experience a watery stool a few times, but this is nothing to worry about.
Getting back on your feet and moving as soon as possible will speed up the healing process, working wonders further down the road. Don’t forget, short walks count! Walking with a catheter can be a significant challenge. Prior to walking, provide additional support to the tube attached to your leg placed by your medical team. Make sure the tube does not move around and tug on the end of your penis. If the catheter is placed on the lower part of your leg, you may want to strap it on your thigh to make it easier to walk. Secure the tube and support patch with Velcro strips and/or an ACE bandage to help support the tube. A few other walking tips:
Wear loose clothes.
Make sure the tube is strapped securely on your body.
Place catheter bag into an over the shoulder bag when walking outside.
Place water bottle in the over the shoulder bag.
Intermittently check how much urine has collected in the tube during your walk, lift up hose to have the urine flow into the bag.
Patient Insight: I did not have any information on how to stabilize my catheter. I tried using adhesive tape, but that didn't work. On my walks I attached a string as a shoulder strap onto the hose just under the lowest hose regulator valve, to limit gravitational pulling down of the tube on my penis. I definitely wouldn't need to go the string route had I used Velcro strips or an ACE bandage.
MORE ARTICLES ON MANAGING A CATHETER CAN BE FOUND HERE.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION FOUND ON THIS WEBSITE IS NEITHER WRITTEN BY MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS, NOR DOES IT CLAIM TO BE QUALIFIED MEDICAL ADVICE. All content is written by fellow Cancer Patients that have gone through their own cancer recovery process. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.