Why Is it Important to Follow a Daily Catheterization Schedule?

My name is Mason Ellis, and I am a C5 spinal cord-injured quadriplegic. You can read the story of my accident and recovery on 180 Medical’s blog here. One of my passions is using my experience to help others through mentoring, writing blogs, and creating original videos for my YouTube channel. In this post, I’d like to talk about the value of learning why to follow a daily catheterization schedule. My original videos offer viewers helpful information about life with a spinal cord injury (SCI).

mason ellis
Mason Ellis

Adjusting to a New Routine After My Spinal Cord Injury

During the first year or so after my spinal cord injury, it seemed like I never had enough time in the day to complete everything I needed to do. I had to learn so many new things in my “new life” that I never had to think about before. For instance, I had to learn to perform pressure reliefs to avoid pressure sores, drink water regularly even when I don’t feel thirsty, and take new medications that my body now requires.

While some tasks were the same, such as brushing my teeth, I had to learn to do them differently than before. Plus, it took more time. Once I completed all my tasks in that early adjustment period, the day would be almost over, and then it was time for bed.

Eventually, I came up with a routine schedule that I could follow every day. This way, I could make sure I was taking care of everything in my daily routine. Plus, over time, I was able to reduce the time it took to do certain tasks through repetition and practice.

Learning the Importance of a Daily Catheterization Schedule

Probably one of the most important tasks I adjusted to in my new routine after my spinal cord injury was learning to self-catheterize. I use intermittent catheters, which is often a preferred catheter type for many people who cannot void their bladder fully on their own. Using an intermittent catheter keeps urine from staying inside the bladder for too long, which is important for a variety of reasons I list below.

daily planner

As a quadriplegic, I cannot feel when or if I need to urinate. This is a big reason why I need to set and follow a daily catheterization schedule. Personally, I self-cath every 5 hours with one more within 4 hours. This is a helpful routine for me because I have learned to catheterize at the same time of day every day. I’ve found this schedule to be perfect for my needs: 7 AM, 12 PM, 5 PM, 10 PM, and 2 AM.

However, my particular catheterization schedule won’t work for everyone because it is based on my own condition, fluid intake, and my doctor’s recommendations. Many different people use intermittent catheters for a variety of reasons, including incomplete bladder emptying, neurogenic bladder, urine retention, urinary incontinence, and more.

To find out how often you need to catheterize, consult with your doctor.

Reasons to Follow a Catheterization Schedule

I know firsthand how easy it can be to get distracted and forget to self-cath. However, having a set daily catheterization schedule to follow will help you stay on track and remember what time of day to catheterize.

Here are the top reasons why it’s a good idea to follow your prescribed catheterization schedule.

reasons to follow a daily catheterization schedule

Regular self-catheterizing may help:

  • Reduce the Risk of Urine Leakage

Because the bladder has muscles, it needs its own version of exercise too. You don’t want it to become overstretched and lax. While the bladder can expand to hold up to 2 cups of urine or more, once the bladder reaches its full capacity, that urine has to go somewhere. This may result in urinary incontinence and leakage.

  • Keep the Kidneys Safe from Damage

As said above, with a full bladder, urine will find a way out. Sometimes when a bladder becomes too full without emptying, the pressure can cause urine to back up into the kidneys, which may result in kidney damage or infection.

  • Minimize the Risk of UTIs

Although self-catheterization involves inserting a foreign object into your body multiple times per day, which can introduce external bacteria into the body, keeping the bladder regularly emptied is an important part of helping reduce the risk of UTIs. Keeping to your cathing schedule as prescribed may help your bladder flush out bacteria and keep it from overgrowing, which can sometimes lead to infection.

Easy Ways to Stay on Track with Your Cathing Schedule

To keep yourself on your catheterization schedule, it’s a good idea to set reminders or alarms on your phone, watch, or smartwatch. Whether you prefer to make sure you cath within a certain time frame or right on the dot when your alarm goes off, you’ll be sure to never miss a catheterization.

smartwatch reminder to cath

You may have to make some slight adjustments from day to day depending on where you are, what activities you’re doing, and where the nearest restroom or private area is to self-cath.

However, once you get in the habit of catheterizing around the same times each day, you may not have to remind yourself anymore. It may become a natural part of your day as it has for me.

Lastly, I find it’s helpful to stay on track by receiving a monthly order of catheter supplies right on time. I always know 180 Medical is there for me if I have questions or changes I need to make to my orders. Contact them to experience their kind service and high-quality catheter supplies.

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About the Author
Mason Ellis was injured in a car accident on January 19, 2015. He is now a C5/6/7 quadriplegic paralyzed from the neck down. Since his accident, he has connected with others with spinal cord injuries, as well as family members, friends, and caregivers of someone with a spinal cord injury, therapists and doctors, and able-bodied individuals too. His motto is to "live life just like I would've able-bodied."