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 always hoped my kids would live close to me when they got older, but a few years ago, my son and his wife moved from our hometown for a job opportunity. Kansas City to Denver. They love it there now and I’m very happy for them, but I’ve never been to visit.
Denver is about an 8-hour drive from me, so without a doubt, I’d have to spend the night if I went there. The thing is, I’ve struggled with bedwetting for years and I’m just too embarrassed that I’d have an accident.
They’ve invited me many times, but I’ve never gone.
It breaks my heart to not see the house they’ve built. Even worse, I hate not being able to see my grandson in person. They had a baby boy last year, and except when they’ve come to visit me, I’ve only been able to see him by video chat.
I can’t tell you how much I wish I could go with him to the park. I wish I would be able to visit when he starts playing with friends. Maybe one day walk him to school.
For now, though, I’m stuck here 600 miles away. My son doesn’t know about my condition, and if I were to have an accident there, I’m not sure I would be able to live it down.
I’ve seen a number of doctors to try to determine the cause of things, but none of them can figure it out. I’ve tried medication with no luck, I stay away from fluids at night, but I can’t seem to wake up dry.
These days my only defense is protection. I wear heavy-duty pull ups at night, have a thick waterproof mattress pad on my bed, and I sleep on top of a waterproof pad to make clean up a little easier. I’ve learned the best methods for cleaning so that it gets rid of the smell, and in the end, it doesn’t really bother me anymore. But if my son or my daughter-in-law found out, I would be mortified.
My hope is that one day I’ll feel confident enough to share my problem with him. I know he wonders why I never come and thinks that maybe I’m mad at him for moving away. I want to desperately tell him that it’s not him, it’s me who’s the problem. But I’m just not there yet.
In the meantime, I have to be content with watching my grandson grow up from afar. Using Facetime and Hallmark cards to tell him what I wish I could say in person: that his grandmother loves him very much and hopes to one day see him in his own home.
Incontinence is a thief. It robs you of the joys of life and makes you feel ashamed for things you have no control over. Some day I will overcome these obstacles. I won’t let incontinence take so much from me. I just need to find the strength to do it.
Kansas City, MO