I’m 65 years old, and for years I let my incontinence control me.
I always had a bit of an overactive bladder – I’d race to the bathroom as soon as I got home, no matter where I had been or how long I’d been out. Washing dishes after dinner had me almost hopping to the toilet, for fear I’d have a leak.
It was sort of funny at first – well, as funny as we could make it. My kids would make fun of me and we’d laugh about how silly I looked. But after a while, my body just wasn’t strong enough to hold it in and I started not making it to the bathroom in time. I brushed it off for a while – I’d had five kids after all! Wasn’t this something I should expect?
But after a while, it really started to get me down. The small leaks started turning into gushes and I wasn’t able to hide my accidents. I relied on absorbent products but so many of the ones I tried leaked that I became terrified of venturing out of the house.
I became a hermit – making my kids come to see me at home instead of meeting them out or going to their house. I missed events – graduations, family outings, get-togethers with friends – things I used to love to do. I was a slave to my incontinence. And I felt helpless.
I finally found help through my daughter. She saw my pain and the big changes in me over the years and finally put her foot down, demanding to take me to talk to my doctor. It was a terrifying discussion for me – what would she say? Would it make me feel even more embarrassed?
But my doctor was very kind, and started me on a medication for OAB right away, which helped a lot.
She also referred me to a physical therapist to help strengthen my pelvic floor. I thought it would be extremely uncomfortable, but it’s left me feeling so much stronger and empowered, I kick myself that I didn’t start it sooner.
I’ve regained so much control over my condition and my life now. I wish I had sought help sooner.
I’m likely an extreme case – I don’t think most people – even those with incontinence – live like I did. But here is my challenge to anyone living with incontinence – why let it dictate your life even a little? If you’re struggling with little leaks here and there, don’t put off treatment or brush it off like it’s nothing. Packing an extra change of clothes, scouting out bathrooms, making excuses – these are changes to your life that may start off small, but can snowball into something larger if you don’t seek help and take care of it now.
Find a doctor you trust, and get treatment for your leaks. Don’t let incontinence hold you back from living your life. It’s just not worth it.
Sandra F., Minneapolis, MN