Catheter? I 'ardly knew 'er...
November 16, 2011 6:14 AM   Subscribe

I recently had urological surgery, and I'm on a foley catheter for the next two weeks. I'm female. How do I put up with it?

I think I'm generally pretty good about making lifestyle changes for the greater good, but this is one of the more confusing medical situations I have dealt with. The catheter itself is uncomfortable, but what I'm more concerned about are things like how to dress myself? I can't wear most of my pants over the catheter, and it's getting too cold outside for skirts. I'm currently in school and have a job, and everything I do takes 5x longer now. I feel like I'm going to be late everywhere. I can't sit down on a chair without relative discomfort. All I feel like I can do is lie down. I am embarrassed about getting up to leave class and hearing my bag slosh. I haven't left the house yet. The whole situation is overwhelming me, and I don't know how to deal with this on a day-to-day basis. Help?
posted by stoneandstar to Science & Nature (8 answers total)
Sorry you're dealing with this! If it's only for two weeks, can you keep re-wearing a pair or two of baggier pants that will accommodate the tubing and leg bag? Or perhaps an A-line skirt with thick leg warmers underneath, with the bag rigged up above the leg warmers? Or pants with one of those big, drapey, open-style cardigans that you could kind of wrap around yourself to conceal any bulging in the pelvic/upper thigh area?

I know you are feeling self-conscious about the sloshing of the bag, but I think it's one of those things that you're noticing way more than anyone else is. Plus, most people don't really know about foley caths so if they heard a sloshing sound they wouldn't automatically think, "Ew, that girl has a bag of urine strapped to her."
posted by tetralix at 6:27 AM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Conspicuously carry a half-filled water bottle around with you in your hand. Plausible deniability with regard to the sloshing (which, I agree with tetralix, is probably not going to be audible to anyone but you, but why not).
posted by phunniemee at 6:31 AM on November 16, 2011 [8 favorites]

You do have a small leg bag vs. a bed bag, right? They make bag covers that are solid colors to obscure the bag and the thicker fabrics also make the sloshing less noticeable to the wearer.
posted by crankylex at 7:13 AM on November 16, 2011

I see the following outfit on the street a ton lately: cozy thick thigh-high socks, a pair of knee high riding boots and a wool skirt cut close enough that it won't be blown around in the wind. You'll have unfettered access to your thighs, but you'll stay nice and warm.
posted by theraflu at 9:29 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure if sitting is uncomfortable because of pressure on the catheter area or something else, but if it is pressure-related maybe a donut pillow would help, as the hole in the center of the pillow will keep pressure off your lower parts. The one I linked comes with a cover so it won't be obvious it is a donut, but if anyone asks the simple explanation "I recently had surgery" should suffice.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:52 AM on November 16, 2011

Man, I feel for you. I had a foley for a few days at home following a hysterectomy this summer. I came in to suggest something similar to the young rope-rider. Except I'd start by asking these folks for their recommendation as to how to deal with it:

- receptionist at your surgeon's office
- nurse at your surgeon's office
- surgeon him/herself
- the charge nurse on the surgical unit
- the charge nurse in the recovery room

Additionally, they likely gave you some papers when you were discharged after surgery that says something like "if you feel any of the following symptoms or have questions, call this number: xyz" Call that number and ask how to deal with your foley in public. Especially on a urological unit, they've probably answered this question hundreds of times.

And don't minimize your need for more information! Explain that you're uncomfortable when sitting; they might want to slightly adjust the foley's position or explain to you how to do it. I remember mine had to be adjusted in the recovery room after I started sitting up. And then I had to wear a particular (huge) pair of underpants with tighter leg elastic to make sure the catheter was held in place and not tugging as I moved around.

Good luck!
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 12:26 PM on November 16, 2011

Response by poster: Hi everyone, thanks for your answers. I ended up digging out a pair of loose pants and a long skirt (very long, calf-length, since the leg bag extended past my knee). My advice is to 1) drink a lot of water, so the catheter itself doesn't irritate the bladder (by the last day my urine was basically cherry Kool-Aid in appearance), and if you can, take some kind of pain medication so the constant rubbing doesn't drive you crazy. Also, while I was wearing pants I thought of suggesting that it was an ice pack if anyone asked, but no one did.

I had it removed yesterday, and I am very happy. It got easier with time and your suggestions. Thanks again!
posted by stoneandstar at 8:39 PM on November 23, 2011

Response by poster: ... unnecessary numbering...
posted by stoneandstar at 8:40 PM on November 23, 2011

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