This story is a part of the National Association For Continence’s “Voices Of Incontinence” campaign, which shows, in patient’s own words, what it’s like to live with incontinence. Learn more about this campaign, watch the videos, read other stories, and find resources to manage bladder leaks here.
I’m incontinent and have been for the past 15 years.
That’s a long time, and I’ve been through many ups and downs along the way. It’s only recently that I’ve finally come to terms with this condition.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that if you’re struggling with something like this, coming to accept it is the best thing you can do if you still want to live a normal life.
I know what some of you may be thinking: “How can he live a normal life if he wets himself all the time?” I thought that at first, too. I was only 47 when it started. I was in the prime of my life. The leaks were the result of a bad car accident that I was in – one that I was lucky to survive. Most of my injuries healed, but I was left with this one parting gift – leaks that just won’t stop.
At first, it really bothered me. I kept thinking that as I recovered maybe the leaks would go away. But they didn’t. I got really depressed for a while, refusing to go out, snapping at my wife, distancing myself from my friends and coworkers. Finally, a good friend gave it to me straight. “You’re being an ass,” he said. “You’ve been dealt a lousy hand, it’s true. But you survived. You’re still here. Now there are people who need you. Don’t let a little pee be the thing that controls your life.”
And you know what? He was right. I was acting like a fool, allowing this condition to dictate what I would do and how I would feel. Once I finally realized that I had the power to turn that around, everything was different. I found a great doctor who acted like a partner in treating my condition. We tried everything. Physical therapy, medications, you name it. Nothing has cured me completely, but I’m a lot better off than I used to be.
I’ll also say that I’ve spent a small fortune finding an absorbent product that actually worked for me. Finding a good fit and a style was really important, because I was ready to be active again – playing basketball, walking the dog, cycling, you name it. So I looked for products that would adjust with me and keep me dry while I was living my life on my own terms.
It hasn’t been an easy road. I’ve had plenty of days when I’ve felt depressed. Wondering why this happened to me, and why I have to live with these inconveniences. But in the end, I’ve learned that that’s all they are: inconveniences. I’m lucky to be alive. Lucky to be able to walk and run and do most of what I did before my accident. I sure as hell am not about to let all that go to waste because of a leaky bladder.
Find the help you need. Accept that it’s a part of your life, and just get on with it. Life is too short to do anything else.
Grand Junction, CO