You have been discharged with a urinary catheter. These tubes (usually called "Foley," named after the inventor) are used to drain the bladder of urine.
The catheter is a hollow tube with a hole on each end. A side arm can be seen on the catheter and this allows a small balloon to be filled in the bladder so the catheter does not fall out.
The catheter needs to be connected to a drainage bag to allow continuous and unimpeded drainage. It is important not to obstruct the flow of urine, unless you are specifically asked to do so.
These are the plastic bags to which the catheter is connected. The bags vary in design but all have a connection adapter for the catheter and a drainage port or spigot at the bottom to empty the bag. Some bags have long tubes so they can be attached to the bed or carried. Other bags have no tubing and must be attached to one's leg with straps.
The major cause of irritation is at the end of the urethra (the opening of the urinary channel above the vagina). You should wash this area daily with a mild soap and water. In most cases, you will have less irritation of the urethra if the catheter is secured to your leg with a gentle curve. Tape is the best and least expensive way of securing the catheter. Movement or tugging on the catheter will then pull on the tape, not on the urethra and bladder.
Cleaning the drainage bags
Rinse bags with warm water and soap every day or two, depending on how dirty and how much odor is present. One teaspoon of vinegar may be used in the rinse water to reduce the odor.
Hold any bag over the toilet or suitable container and open the spigot at the bottom of the bag. Let urine flow until empty and then close the spigot.
The more urine that flows, the less the chance for a blockage. You should be drinking four to eight ounces of water every hour while awake.
Bleeding can be seen on occasion with any catheter. Small amounts of blood or clots are usually of little concern. Bleeding sufficient enough to make it impossible to see through the urine should be brought to our attention.
Urine should drain constantly into the bags. If you see no flow for more than an hour and feel the need to urinate, a blockage of the tube may be present. Debris or blood clots are the most common causes and will need to be dealt with in our office during business hours, or the emergency room. The catheter will either be irrigated until it is clear or it will be changed.
Showering is allowed with a catheter. Simply take your shower and allow the catheter and bag to get wet. Pat gently with a towel to dry.