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.
After living with incontinence for going on 20 years now, I’ve learned a thing or two about managing this condition.
First thing first: This is not a fun condition to have. Not that any medical condition is fun, but this one comes with a stigma, and that can be hard for people to overcome.
I’ve had incontinence on-and-off for my whole life. It started when I was younger and would wet the bed. It lasted through my teens and even into college. I would be dry for weeks at a time, then suddenly it would flare up again, leaving me with wet sheets every morning and an embarrassing pile of laundry in my dorm room.
After college, I started experiencing daytime episodes, too. The doctors weren’t sure what was causing it. I tried meds but they didn’t work, so I just did my best to manage it with absorbent pads. I hated them, but I used them for so long that it didn’t feel like a big deal anymore.
I guess that because I had had the condition for so long, I felt like it was just a part of who I was. I’ve been on all the message boards and have talked to the people who feel so scared to go out because they’re wearing absorbent pads, but in my opinion, who really cares? No one is thinking anything about it or even notices it. And even if they did, so what? It’s a medical condition. Sure, I wish I didn’t have it, but I do, and I refuse to feel bad about that or let it negatively impact my entire life.
I still do everything I want to. I have a job that I love, a wife that accepts my condition and supports me, friends that I can confide in and family that loves me unconditionally. I think that if I were to truly allow incontinence to get to me, I wouldn’t have any of those things.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you need to live your life on your own terms. That means not being scared to go out in public, doing things that excite you every day and embracing those relationships that are important to you. Don’t let something like incontinence stand in the way of living a meaningful life.