“Step to one side please, sir...”
To the airport! These buildings take long enough to pass through, even when you haven’t got a heavily-laden bladder slowing you down (did you pack your bladder yourself, sir?). My three tips here are:
- Use the loo when you see one. You don’t want to be on the long hike to Gate Z128, with the only toilet a mile behind you by McDonald’s. Whether you’re about to board a plane, endure a coach trip or trek to your accommodation, your best and cleanest toilet is probably the one in the terminal. Most countries save the best sanitation for their airports, to show off how civilized they are – so make the most of these facilities.
- Plan ahead for airport security. You’ve packed your bags (and distributed any medical supplies across several items of luggage, I hope... It’s no use that one case goes missing). So now the hand luggage and your person will be scanned and possibly searched. I always travel ready to be searched: my several dozen catheters being scanned and scrutinized, me being led down a serious-looking corridor, to explain to Airport Security what this peculiar bladder condition is that I have. I’ve thought, ‘Yeah, let them query my catheters. I’ll pee right now. That’ll show ’em!’ Of course in reality, I’ve only even been asked about them once. I showed a note from my doctor (well worth carrying), and the Querier-in-Chief couldn’t have been lovelier about it. They see all sorts there. This is just another thing. No serious-looking corridor for me just yet...
- Allow time to get to that boarding gate. I know, I like to look in the bookshop and buy some overpriced fast food too. Some of us might qualify for those little motorized scooters to take us around. Others, like me as a child, might get the chance to ride on a suitcase on a trolley (a little dangerous but fun). Either way, don’t miss your flight. Thank you for travelling with catheters, we wish you a pleasant break...
Caths on a Plane
As for the journey itself, well hopefully it’s not a long one, though these things generally are. You might take a long car journey – you’ll be used to regular pit-stops to fuel and decant. You might be on a train trip, with toilets comparable to those on a plane, but oh, watch out for those trains without any facilities. You don’t want your only ‘op-pee-tunity’ to be when the train doors open at a platform, with a well-timed and very public bit of catheter usage. (I’ve not done that yet but been tempted.)
As for those pesky flights, the inflight toilets are lacking in room, and turbulence doesn’t help, but needs must. Choose your moment, try and avoid the queues, and make sure you’ve got a cath handy. It’s never good if your nearest catheter’s at the bottom of a bag stuffed into an overhead locker ten seats down – or worse, in the hold.
As a child, I’d travel with two or three caths in one of my dad’s old shaver bags. I kept it with me whenever I went out – except for the time I left it on a plane, and only realized when we reached our villa. We called the airline to come and collect it…Whoops. A controlled explosion meant my dad’s shaver bag was no more. Luckily I’d packed more catheters. And sorry to the security services who thought for a while that I’d tried to plant something untoward, when it was actually a child’s urological supplies.
Next time: tips for the trip itself.
The opinions expressed here are of a personal and anecdotal nature, and are in no way a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult your doctor or nurse if you have any questions.