The Tricks of Intermittent Catheterization When You’re in a Wheelchair

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

Share this article:

Share article via email
living with MS | Multiple Sclerosis News Today | main graphic for the column

For the few of you lot lucky enough not to know about intermittent catheterization, it’s shoving a thin bit of plastic up the old (in my case) urethra so that you can pee. I am well aware of how bad plastic is for the planet, but in my open-and-shut case, it’s a lifesaver. Just have to hope it goes into a landfill rather than killing dolphins and all other seafaring mammal and nonmammal creatures.

Amazingly, it turns out that the ancient Chinese somehow used onion stalks for catheterization. That’ll bring a tear to your eye. Sorry, male joke only, folks!

So trick one was to work out how to wee when I’m out and about. I wrote a column about this back in May 2021. Basically, Velcro openings on the front allow full access. It really is a relief. All my family refer to them as my stripper trousers, or pants for you Americans.

Recommended Reading
3 Mavins’ Beer charity | Multiple Sclerosis News Today | illustration of woman using a megaphone

Long-term Gilenya Use Safe, Effective in Real-world Czech Study

But ’round the house I want to wear comfortable loungewear. Couldn’t find any. What to do, what to do?

My interim solution was to put on the loungewear trousers/pants I had from back in the days of walking (OK, stumbling) and only have them three-quarters on. This undoubtedly drove my morning carers mad, though it saved me going equally bonkers by later spending an hour wrestling with the beast (that’s my willy). Truthfully, after the ravages of my MS, today it’s more of a minnow than the tadpole it once proudly was. That’s why, no doubt, I’m all for protecting all aquatic life!

This solution was even more of a necessity as the rocketing price of gas meant the central heating was now off for much of the day.

Now the wheeze that I thought of is in no way body shaming. It turns out I’m immensely glad that some people do put on excessive weight, so there is a market for extremely large loungewear. The biggest I could find was 8X. It was a gamble, but I bought a couple trews (leg clothing, and now I’ve got Scotland covered as well).

My theory was that once I was sitting down, no one would know. And as I was plonked on them, there was no way they could fall down.

It has worked extremely well. My carers are used to my antics and gave me nary a quizzical look. There is now full access to self-catheterize. (I rather hate the current medical jargon of intermittent catheterization.)

So I’m warmer, look fully decent rather than three-quarters, and no longer scream in frustration at my clothing as I’m attending to this particular body function.

Who’d have thought you’d be reading an MS column about a fashion tip?

You’re welcome.

catheterization | Multiple Sclerosis News Today | photo of a pair of loungewear pants behind held aloft

Before: 8X loungewear, held aloft by John’s wife, Jane. (Photo by John Connor)

catheterization | Multiple Sclerosis News Today | John wearing the loungewear in his wheelchair, in a doorway.

And after. (Photo by Jane Davies)

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Garth Jensen avatar

Garth Jensen

Hi all. I have 40years of self-catheterization experience most in a wheelchair. It changed my life! This is what I do.
1. Elastic top sporty trousers. 2. Wheel up to the toilet with a leg on either side of the loo and raise the toilet seat. 3. Always use hand sanitizer. 4. Lift everything including your scrotum over your elastic trouser top. 5. Apply lubrication to 3 inches of 'pipe'. 6. Slide it in till the flow begins. 7. Always count out the flow to remind you to maintain your fluid intake. 8. Remove the 'pipe' and use a paper tissue to dry up whilst blowing through the 'pipe', and wipe the end of your penis. (The steam in your breath is cleaner than the water in a tap) 9. Store it all for next time. (I use a clean metal cigarette case whilst out and about.) You girls may need to use a 'makeup compact' with a mirror in it to hang on the raised toilet seat to see what you're doing. Always remember that 'practice and experimentation make perfect'. Cheers to you all - GJ-NZ.

R. Eigler avatar

R. Eigler

I wear basketball warmup pants, with snaps from the waist to the ankles. Just watch a SF Warriors Team entrance to see how effective and sporty they are. Please hang in there (pun intended), we appreciate your honesty and humor.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.

MS Podcast
MS sidelined his dreams of playing pro football, so Tyler called an audible! Listen in as Jenn chats with Tyler Campbell, son of Football Hall of Fame legend Earl Campbell.

Listen here.

Dancing Doodle

Did you know some of the news and columns on Multiple Sclerosis News Today are recorded and available for listening on SoundCloud? These audio news stories give our readers an alternative option for accessing information important for them.

Listen Here