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Patient Perspective: Incontinence Is A Part Of My Life, But It Doesn’t Define Me

I’m 50 years old, and for the past 3 years, I’ve had a leaky bladder. I know what you’re thinking. “What? She’s so young! How does she cope? She must be devastated!” Actually, I’m not at all devastated, and have coped just fine with my bladder leakage. I refuse to let something like incontinence get in the way of my happiness.

As a 50-year old woman, I still enjoy jogging three times a week. I love biking with my kids, taking my dog on walks, and brunching with my college girlfriends once a month. I’m an avid gardener, belong to a book club, and also work as a teacher in the Oregon Public Schools.  So as you can see, incontinence hasn’t slowed me down one bit.

Sure, when I first began having leaks, it was frustrating. I did feel scared that people would notice, and I wasn’t quite sure why this was happening all of a sudden. But I soon decided that I still had way too much to accomplish and being afraid of a little bladder leakage wasn’t going to help me. So I made an appointment with my doctor, who, thankfully, referred me to a pelvic floor physical therapist right away.  (I’ve learned that most PCPs are not so quick to do so, for some reason.)

My PT showed me how weak my pelvic floor had become, the muscles that hold up the bladder and other major organs. She worked with me to show me how to do a proper kegel, and showed me other exercises to improve my core, glutes, and all the muscles that support good pelvic floor strength (turns out, there are quite a few.)

At first it felt weird, working with a PT. I soon became more comfortable with it though, and couldn’t believe how much some of the simple exercises she showed me made a difference in my bladder leakage.

Within about 6 weeks I noticed that I was having fewer leaks, and was able to hold in my urges to go. I started jogging again at 12 weeks, and now am able to do a full 3 miles with no problem.

It wasn’t easy, keeping up with the exercises every day. But dedication and perseverance have gotten me to where I am today. I still have occasional leaks, every once in a while, but they have greatly diminished from the once a day occurrences that they used to be. I can’t believe what a difference my PT made for my incontinence has made to me.

My advice? Don’t let bladder leaks get you down. And don’t let them get in the way of living your life. With so many treatment options available, there’s no reason to let incontinence go untreated. Don’t be scared to talk to your doctor. Every day you wait is one more day that you could be living your life on your own terms.

Deborah M.
Syracuse, NY

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