I’m feeling uncomfortable in more ways than the obvious one at the moment. Apart from the feeling of discomfort in the bladder area I have a feeling of guilt about Julia running round fetching and carrying for me. On top of that I’ve just been calculating the amount of plastic waste I’m going to produce before my return to hospital.
It’s going to be six weeks before I return. That’s 42 days.
For those of you not familiar with the equipment involved, it starts with a Foley catheter. Don’t read the link unless you have a real thirst for knowledge, it’s just a catheter that stays in place because they blow up a small balloon on the end to keep it in place.
Definitely don’t read it if you currently have one inserted as I’ve just scared myself to death by reading all the possible problems.
They can also, it seems, be used to stop nosebleeds. The mind boggles.
The catheter is plugged into a leg bag.
It is secured to my leg by Velcro straps, which is a skill in itself. Secure it too far down and you can get quite a twinge when you stand up. If I could find an emoticon showing a man with massive googly eyes and drops of sweat I would use it now. That’s how it feels. I now secure it as close to knee level as possible.
You can get one with a longer tube, but giving one to the man who is six feet two would be too simple.
The whole point of the procedure, from my point of view, is to get a decent night’s sleep so I don’t really want to be getting up all the time to empty it. This is where the night bag comes in. It’s four times the size and you can get about 7 hours out of it before that sense of urgency alerts you to the need for emptying.
The night bag has several feet of tubing attached. I haven’t measured it yet, but it’s long enough to trail across the floor at night and get tangled in Julia’s feet.
To attach the night bag you merely connect the tube to the tap of the leg bag and open the tap. To remove it you close the tap and disconnect. Remember to leave the soft tube on the leg bag. Simple. Even an idiot can do it. Most of the time. I’ve only had one emergency sock change so far, and one trip to root through the bin for the connector…
Anyway, plastic waste.
You use a leg bag for a week, so I’ll need six, which seems a bit of a waste. However, I don’t want an infection to build up so I’ll do as I’m told.
You have to throw the night bag and tube away every day. That’s 42 bags and about 50 yards of tubing.
I think you could open up the top of the night bags to make flower pouches. They already have eyelets for hanging and a drain hole.
However, Julia says no.
I’m sure there’s a way to repurpose the tubing too, but she isn’t keen.
So that’s 42 night bags, 50 yards of tubing and six day bags.
That’s not the end of the story, as they come in packs of one leg bag and five night bags. I need nine packs, in plastic outers, and at a ratio of 7:1 will have six surplus bags – three leg and three night. I’ll be interested to see if they have a system for taking them back into stock.
To be fair, the NHS is making big efforts in recycling and if I were to get an infection by reusing equipment I would moan at great length. You know I would.
However, I still feel bad about all this plastic.
We also have three pairs of crutches from various rugby injuries because they won’t take them back, but that’s a different story…