Learning the Hard Way

After I got out of hospital I really didn’t know much about self-catheterization, only what I had read in booklets that I had been given and what the nurses and doctors had taught me.
Thinking I’d learn exactly what to do, I made friends with some guys at the local wheelchair basketball club. They were all very forthcoming with info, and gave me answers to all my questions but they usually weren’t the answers that I was looking for.

Eventually some of the guys told me: “You have to try out different things and find what works for you”, so that is what I did, and guess what? Mine is not the same as any of the other guys.

Bladder Tricks!
I started by catheterizing every four hours, including waking up at night to catheterize, but I soon learnt when I could push it - and when not to!
The most important lesson I learnt about bladder control was to monitor my liquid intake and out-put. Two things usually cause me to lose bladder control: when it is too full and if I have a bladder infection.

With regards to bladder infections, you get to know your body over time. One thing they told me in the hospital was to always smell your urine when you pee.
I thought it was a load of rubbish, but now I can smell a bladder infection coming before it starts making me sick. To try and manage my bladder infections I take one cranberry extract tablet per day and, when my bladder starts leaking, or I smell my urine starting to smell, I take a couple extra which usually sorts it out quite quickly.
I also have wet wipes with me wherever I go. It doesn’t matter where I am, if I have to use the bathroom I use my wet wipes - before and after.

One of my other preventative measures is cleaning the catheter in a Hibitane and water solution to ensure all the germs are killed. Like my wet wipes, I have it with me wherever I go. But make sure that it’s a 5% or less mixture, and make sure it’s mixed with water and not alcohol. This really helps to prevent infections.

Accidents - Everyone has them!
Just today I’ve had to leave work early because of an “accident”. They told us in rehab that you can use female sanitary pads to soak up any leakage. I would be very interested in a product that is manufactured specifically for my kind of lifestyle: a busy business man, international traveller and wheelchair basketball player!

Baby those Bowels!
As far as bowel function goes, this is something that I’ve struggled with extensively. People I met when I first had my accident told me that it takes about two years to get to know your body - to learn to know when your bowels want to go - and I must admit they were quite accurate.

I use Dulcolax tablets for my bowels. I take them at around 3pm, and usually go to the bathroom around 9 or 10pm in the evening before I go to bed.
I also use a bowel irrigation system from Coloplast. Once my bowels have gone, I just use it to rinse everything clean, this ensures no little accidents after your bowels have gone.

I’ve know guys who use tablets, and some that prefer suppositories. It all depends on the level of your injury and how much control you have. I’ve spoken to guys who don’t use anything, but all of their injuries are really low.

I’ve tried the different things but, once again, you have to find what works for you. One of the tricks I learnt for when my bowels are giving me a lot of problems is to eat a banana or two. Taking laxatives so often does cause your bowels to go a little funny every once in a while, but the other thing I’ve learnt to be SO true, is that if you eat correctly and properly, you definitely have more control over your bowels than when you eat wrong.
- T4/T5

How do you look after your bladder and bowels?
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