When I leave the house, it’s like mobilising an army. Gone are the days when all I had to remember were my keys and purse as I shut the front door behind me. When you have a wonky body, there are so many things that can go wrong and bodily functions that misbehave when you are miles away from the nearest toilet. One way I’ve learnt to make life much easier is to take a survival kit with me whenever I leave the house. This little pink backpack contains everything I need in a medical emergency, as well as some surprising essentials, and it goes everywhere with me.
Here is a list of what my survival kit contains:
Catheters - I can’t go anywhere without a handful of Curan Lady Catheters. Even though I try to avoid self-catheterising during the day due to my urethral nerve damage, I can guarantee that the time I don’t have any with me is the time when my bladder is fit to burst, yet refuses to empty.
Anti-bacterial hand gel - Whether I’m dealing with a leaky feeding tube or faced with a public toilet with a broken tap, I cannot live without my hand gel.
CliniFix Multipurpose Tube Holder- While I don’t use CliniFix Multipurpose Tube Holders for my feeding tube (due to its weight), they are fantastic for securing my syringe driver line and my stomach drain.
Zip lock bags - Of all the non-medical items that I use to make life that bit easier, zip lock bags are by far the thing I rely on the most. Whether it’s storing spare caps and connections for my feeding tube, keeping unused dressings clean and safe to use later in the day or a whole host of other uses, I could not survive without these.
Sterile Water - When I first got my feeding tube, I made sure that I had a bottle of sterile water with me at all times incase I needed to flush my tube. Over the years I’ve found myself in various situations where that little bottle of water has helped me in ways I would not have imagined including helping to clean up after an accident.
Notebook and pen - Aside from the fact that I have an unhealthy obsession with stationery, having a notebook and pen on me at all times makes life that little bit easier. Whether I’m making a note of the volume and rate of medication in my syringe driver during an emergency refill in the supermarket carpark, or jotting down a question I may think of to ask at a future appointment, my little notebook has earned its place in my survival kit.
Scented disposable bags - Sometimes plans don’t quite go to plan and my medical devices decide that a garden centre is the perfect place to malfunction. Having scented disposable bags in my kit means I can quickly remove my leaking stomach drain, bag it up and not worry about the sickly smell until I find a suitable place to dispose of it. A lot of the time I can simply pop the disposable bag in a box in the boot of the car and bin it when I get home.
Baby wipes - Hands, feeding tube leak, bladder accident, riding through dog poo in my wheelchair, there are a thousand and one reasons why I cannot leave the house without a big pack of baby wipes.
Incontinence pads - I make sure I have a variety of different incontinence pads in my kit because I can never tell what my bladder or bowel are planning.
A change of clothes - It’s taken a few bad experiences to realise that the inconvenience of carrying around some spare underwear and leggings is far better than having a fun day out ruined because of a bodily function mishap. Soiled clothes simply go into a scented disposable bag or a large zip lock bag to be washed at home. It’s amazing how nimble you become at changing in the passenger seat of a car when you’ve had plenty of practice.
My survival kit takes away the ‘what if’s’
While leaving the house with a complex illness can require a little more organisation, ensuring my survival kit is well stocked and ready to go means I don’t have to worry about the what if’s. Instead, I can go out knowing that whatever happens, I have everything I need and I can focus on enjoying myself.