Are you like me? Do you live with someone who is unable to deal with your incontinence? I am sad to say that I do, and while it hasn’t always been easy, I’m starting to find ways to help my husband accept my problem.
We’ve always been a carefree couple. Even in our early days we’d drop everything at a moments notice if a cheap flight to an exotic destination came along. We’d host impromptu parties with friends, go on vacations with other couples, and push ourselves to try new things like running marathons or participating in intense group workouts or races.
And while we are still very much in love, and still like to be adventurous, in recent years, I’ve held back, because I suffer from incontinence.
I started noticing leaks when I was in my early 40’s. At first they were small, and didn’t happen very often. I brushed them off and still tried to do all the things we always had, without feeling the need to share this new development with my husband.
But after a while, the small leaks turned to bigger ones, and they were happening more and more frequently. I found that I couldn’t go out of the house without packing a spare change of clothes. I no longer wanted to just hop on a 5-hour flight to somewhere exotic where I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find a bathroom, or worse, have an accident on the plane.
I had to tell my husband what was happening, and while he was supportive, he didn’t understand why I couldn’t “just hold it”. He started to grow resentful as I declined more and more invitations, and we soon began to have fights about it, often leaving me feeling ashamed and embarrassed because of my condition.
I decided that I needed to take matters into my own hands and help my husband understand. We started doing research together online and learned more about my condition, what causes it, and ways to better manage it. And, I’ve talked with my doctor about ways to treat my incontinence so that I can do more of the things I love.
It hasn’t been easy, and my husband still sometimes gets frustrated at my hesitation to do some of the things we used to, but educating ourselves, together, was one of the best things we could have done to get back on track. It’s helped us both learn that this is not my fault, and that there are ways to overcome it. And, despite his frustration, I’m glad my husband is pushing me to get treatment instead of hiding behind my condition. I’m confident that with my doctor’s help, I’ll soon be able to get back to many of the things that we used to enjoy, and can’t wait to feel like my old self again.
Sylvie R., Rockport, Massachusetts
Thanks so much for sharing this personal story. It’s important for people with bladder or bowel dysfunction to hear that they’re not alone and that help is available. This affects tens of millions of people every day. However, I noticed that the last sentence of the story states that she is waiting until treatment is over/successful to get back into activities she enjoys… Please know that there are many ways to help manage leaks while undergoing treatment or therapy so you may be able to resume almost all normal activities. These should be discussed with your doctor and could include absorbent products, urological devices and more and should not inhibit or delay treatment. If your doctor isn’t recommending or familiar with management options then please reach out to a specialist such as a urologist, urogynecologist, continence nurse or nurse practictioner. NAFC has links to these resources on their website.