Most wheelchair users will always have a purse or a backpack with them. Sometimes it’s behind them, on the side, and sometimes it’s hanging under the cushion. This depends on the person and chair. For me and my chair, I have a bag behind me, I have my purse, and sometimes I will have a bag on the side of my wheelchair. Where your bag is located may not matter, what matters is the contents and accessibility of the contents. For some, these items are crucial to your health, so it is best to be prepared. For this article, I am excited to share common items found in a wheelchair users’ bag.
My first step is keeping it down to the essentials. I don’t like to overpack the bag which is placed behind me. If I need assistance, it can be difficult to dictate what I need if there are many items. Also, if I’m on my own, I make sure it is easy to grab what I need in a short notice. Here are my essentials and why I store them:
Three – Four Cath Kits
Not only do I store cath kits in my bag, I also store them in the van. No matter where they are stored, they must be accessible. I store them in my van because I like to be over prepared. I have been stuck in situations where either myself or a caregiver forgot to restock my bag prior to leaving my house (yikes). Thank God I had backups stored in the van. I’ve been stuck in situations where I am at school or work and I have a 40-minute drive home which leaves room for an accident or autonomic dysreflexia. I want to avoid both situations as much as possible.
I store three in my bag for strategic reasons. Three cath kits allows room for error. If I contaminate, or drop one, I have two backups. Normally this never happens, but it is strategic. Also, if I forget to restock after one use, I have two opportunities to remember to restock. I rarely forget to do this, and my caregivers also know to check. This system is necessary and has saved me before. There has been one time where I forgot to pack my cath kits entirely and had to rely on the ones in my van, so thank God my van was stocked.
The cath kits are closed catheter systems. That means the lube, sterilizing wipes, catheter, everything I would need is enclosed in one bag and the lube and catheter is attached to the bag you would drain the urine into. I never touch the lubricant and I am able to open the sanitizing wipes to perform a clean cath. The system is very successful for me and allows me to have greater independence.
Here’s a picture of my cath kit:
I like to keep emergency medication. Every day is different, and every day I have different levels of pain. Since it’s winter, the cold temps heighten my sensitivity and I am in greater pain. I store emergency medication when circumstances require it.
In case I am unable to reach the sink in the bathroom, I still have the ability to clean my hands.
Roho cushion pump
I have air inflated cushions on my wheelchair. With my pump and the cushions, I am able to prevent pressure sores effectively. If I didn’t have my pump and my cushion(s) is flat, I could be in critical danger.
There are more items you can store but may not be necessary. Here are some ideas:
Spare catheter items
- Individual catheters
- Individual lubricant
- Disposable napkins
Empty bottle/Urinal for cathing
Wheelchair Tools (for emergency repairs or tuning)
- These gloves are great for manual chair users and long distances. These gloves will protect your hands from the constant rubbing against your wheels.
Item of entertainment
Finding the right bag can be challenging. If you are looking for functional and stylish bags, I recommend TJ Maxx or Target where you can find all styles and tons of options. Finding a sustainable, functional, and stylish bag can bring newfound freedom and independence into your life and it is worth your time and research to find what works best.