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  1. #1
    Registered User MikeN's Avatar
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    Default On trail male urinary catheterization

    Long story short: I had prostate surgery several years ago and now I need to catheterize myself 3 times a day; otherwise, I'm a healthy and fit 73 yo. I'm trying to figure out how to do the cathing discretely while backpacking, hopefully thru-hiking, on the AT later this year. If I camp at a shelter I can cath myself in the mornings and evenings in a privy, or in my tent (awkward but doable) if need be, and when stealth camping. The problem I foresee is cathing once or twice in the middle of the day if no privy is available (twice potentially since I'll likely be consuming more liquids while hiking than I do now, but also sweating more!). I could possibly set up my freestanding tent for privacy, but this seems like a lot of trouble just to take a leak. I could also, instead, wander off the trail a bit and cath behind a tree; the process takes about 10 minutes. I've got the hygiene and LNT aspects of the process worked out, but mid-day privacy is still a concern. Any experience or recommendations along these lines? Am I being too prudish about mid-day, out-in-the-open privacy (10 minutes behind a tree might raise some eyebrows )?
    Last edited by MikeN; 01-18-2021 at 09:07. Reason: Change title
    "In proportion as [man] ...simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness." Thoreau

  2. #2

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    I have no experience with what you're going through, but at least in GA and NC/TN, it is pretty easy to walk 50 steps to the left or right and be pretty well hidden to do whatever you need to do. If you happen to hear somebody for whatever reason walking towards you, just say loudly, "Going to the bathroom here" and you'll be left alone. Good luck!

  3. #3
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    I'd say it would be like any involved bathroom break that was more then #1. Just hop off trail into the bush and do your business. Some places you may have to wait till the woods are good (easy enough to travel through but with enough cover), so if the need comes urgently you might have to do what you need to do when you need to do it.

    Be aware of what direction you came from, it's easy enough to get turned around looking for a place to go, and forget while one does their business. I tend to place my pack in the direction of the trail when I squat. along so I could see where it was.
    But I don't see it as a problem as far as the hike goes.

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    Sure enough, if you stop to go to the bathroom, another hiker will come along.

    Given a choice, go to the upslope side of the trail. Hikers tend to look to the downslope side to avoid going over the side. Nobody is concerned about falling up the slope.

    A rhododendron thicket provides plenty of cover and concealment.

    Point your hiking poles back toward the trail.
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  5. #5
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    Finding reasonable privacy in the forested sections of the trail shouldn't be too big an issue. There are enough places where you should be able to duck off into the woods and get some cover. Some will be better than others. From a pure privacy standpoint I think the most challenging areas would be on the long exposed ridges in the Whites as they are both exposed AND often crowded. But I'd be more concerned about more mundane things like falling when going off trail, getting turned around (losing the trail), ticks and poison ivy in the brush, how inclement weather might affect the process, and how all that affects the hygiene requirements. In the end, you'll figure it all out - because you have to. And don't worry too much about other hikers and privacy. If you fall in with a group, they will usually be very understanding. Everybody gives up some degree of privacy when hiking. We're all adults [mostly] and focus on the hiking, not other people's medical issues or bathroom processes.
    I was self employed once, but it proved too stressful. My boss was a jerk and my employee was a slacker - I didn't know whether to quit or fire myself.

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    Have you considered a Foley catheter? i was faced with that possibility while on the A T last summer but decided otherwise.

  7. #7
    Registered User MikeN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGH1NC View Post
    Have you considered a Foley catheter? i was faced with that possibility while on the A T last summer but decided otherwise.
    I used a Foley catheter for two weeks before my prostate surgery. They seem impractical for an active lifestyle, IMHO, compared to intermittent catheters, which I now use and which I'd recommend if you still need to catheterize. Foleys seem to be a temporary solution while intermittent catheters are a better long-term solution, and less prone to inducing infections (UTI's) from my experience.
    "In proportion as [man] ...simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness." Thoreau

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