Discreet bathroom solutions

Not everyone feels confident or comfortable with carrying an exposed leg bag or catheter, even though it is completely normal. Fortunately there are many ways to carry your bathroom necessities discreetly.

After a spinal cord injury, many people struggle with bladder and bowel control. Aside from the challenges of managing a rigorous bathroom schedule, incontinence might mean carrying new accessories – and not the kind of bling you would necessarily want to show off. While catheters and leg bags haven’t made their runway debut, there are many creative ways in which to carry these medical devices more discreetly.

A looser fit

The first tip is to opt for clothing that is more loose-fitting. Consider wearing a skirt (or a kilt for the adventurous man), slacks or bell-bottom jeans with more give below the knee. You can also go up a size to ensure your pants leave enough room for the bag. It is important, however, to pick clothing that won’t pull on the tubing and is comfortable even when the bag is full.

Bag it

If you want to wear something more form-fitting or short, consider placing your leg bag into another bag. Depending on the size of your urine bag, you can opt for a little pouch attached to the frame of your chair, like the Sneaky-B bag from Smergos (R349.99); a bag that fits underneath your seat; or more of a statement piece like a colourful fanny pack or a thigh bag.

Fashionable leg bags

There is a wide range of thigh bags to choose from, including some interesting leather and steampunk designs for those who love chains and studding. Alternatively, more neutral motorcycle leg bags or drop-leg thigh panel bags on Takealot.com start from R390.

Before purchasing any of the thigh bags, make sure it will fit your leg bag comfortably even when it is full. If you want to take the bag-in-bag approach while wearing longer pants, you might need to make a small hole or incision in one leg, near the knee, to allow the tubing to run along the outside and into the bag of your choice.

A different approach

A range of alternatives is available to help drain urine. Consult with your medical practitioner about other options such as a waist bag. Never attempt this shift without first getting approval, because not all methods of draining are similar.

Keep it simple

For intermittent catheter users, there are many – possibly simpler – ways of discreetly carrying medical devices. They can be kept in a makeup bag, a pencil case, an empty eyeglass case, a purse or a backpack (the container has to be clean, of course). In a pinch, you can keep your catheter hidden inside a sleeve or in the waistband of your pants – but the latter is only advisable when the catheter is bendable. And whatever you choose, make sure the catheter is clean and undamaged before using it!

Own it

The best way to handle an embarrassing moment is to own it. Whether you are nervous about someone asking about the makeup bag on your lap or sneaking a peak at your leg bag, it helps to be prepared with an answer or a cheeky comment like “I never miss any of the action in a movie with this little device.”

Remember that all of this is normal and, in the end, your bathroom habits won’t determine what people think of you – your attitude does!

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