Three Generations Of Incontinence

Talk about incontinence with your family.

Sometimes it's hard to open up with others about what's happening with our health. But doing so can help you gain valuable insights into your background and may help you take preventative action to avoid some conditions. Read this story about the importance of sharing your health history and the impact it can make on the entire family.

Growing up in a very conservative family in the 20’s, my Grandmother learned at an early age how to “act properly”. She was a lady, for sure, always looking immaculate, with great manners and a strong sense of pride. She was a private person – never sharing too much and kept any troubles or personal concerns to herself. She passed these traits along to my own mother and then, by default, on to me.  What none of us knew, until recently, is that while acting ladylike is well and good in many cases, keeping things inside can sometimes cause rippling effects throughout generations, especially as it relates to health concerns.

You see, we all suffer from bladder leakage. My Grandmother gave birth to three children in her younger years, and as she inched toward middle age, she began experiencing the symptoms of stress urinary incontinence, causing her to leak urine when extra “stress” (coughing, laughing, sneezing) is placed on the bladder.

For her, this was simply something that she had to live with. She would never dream of talking to anyone about it, especially her doctor. It just became a part of who she was and she managed as well as she could on her own, in silence.

My mother suffered a similar fate, dealing with her bladder leakage in much the same way as my Grandmother did for all those years. It wasn’t until I started experiencing symptoms a few years after the birth of my second child that I ever knew it was something that had plagued generations of my family. 

I was on the phone with my mom when, after a particularly intense sneezing fit, had to excuse myself to use the restroom. When I got back to the phone, my mother very delicately asked me if everything was ok. And though I had never spoken with her candidly about this before, I suddenly felt a need to know if she had also experienced the problem. I asked her very calmly if she had ever had “issues” holding her bladder, and suddenly it was if the flood gates had opened – she shared her struggles over the years, and also her suspicion that her own mother had experienced the same things. We decided to ask my Grandmother at our next monthly visit and finally, the three of us sat down and spoke frankly about this very common problem.

What I learned shocked me, but also sounded vaguely familiar. My Grandmother had never spoken to anyone about her issue – not even once. She purchased incontinence supplies as discreetly as she could and never even told my Grandfather that she was experiencing problems (although I can’t imagine that he didn’t know).  My mother, at least, did tell her doctor, but after a trying, and failing, on one medication, decided to just try to manage it herself and live with the issue. 

I had only just been experiencing light leaks for the past few months, but after hearing their stories and learning about the years of living with the condition, I was determined to do something. That very day I made an appointment with my doctor to learn my options. I read everything I could find about incontinence and  before my appointment and was armed with a list of questions for my doctor.

At my appointment we talked about my options, and I started out by making several lifestyle changes – including taking a hard look at my diet, and practicing several core and pelvic floor exercises to gain some of the strength back that I lost after having kids.

It’s been about a year since my conversation with my Mom and Grandmother, and I’m so glad that I finally opened up to them and learned their struggle. Too many keep conditions such as incontinence to themselves, instead of speaking up about it – especially to those they love. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one, and in fact, that this problem likely had at least a little bit to do with genetics helped me immensely.

During my research into my own problem, I came across a study that showed incontinence that occurs before you reach middle age is likely determined by your genes. I only wish that I would have had the conversation with my family earlier.

May is Women’s Health Month. And Mother’s Day just happens to be coming up as well. Use this time with your family wisely – make it a point to ask them about their health history. You’ll be able to better arm yourself with information on your background and how to treat your own condition simply by speaking up and starting the conversation. And who knows – you may find that you have someone else who knows exactly what you’re going through who is right under your nose.

How To Stay In Touch With Long-Distance Family And Friends

How To Stay In Touch With Long Distance Family And Friends

We’ve been talking this week about increasing our social circle and improving our relationships. Having a strong connection to others helps to keep us healthy. However, with many people these dyas living far from family and friends, it can be hard to stay in touch. However, being far does not imply that the closeness or the bond between individuals cannot develop or strengthen. These days, technology allows us many ways to stay in touch with loved ones no matter where they live.

Here are four ways to stay connected.

Email. 

Almost all of us have email accounts these days and they are a great day to keep in touch regularly with family and friends. Not only are they easy and free to send, but the messages arrive to your loved ones almost instantly, making it simple to have an ongoing dialogue. We’ve heard of some families who make it a point of e-mailing every day, just to check in and let each other know how they are all doing and what is happening in their lives. 

Social Media.

Social media can be a great tool to keep in touch loved ones.  With a quick upload or status update, you can let everyone know, and see pictures or videos, about what’s happening in your live. It’s one of the easiest way to keep in touch with larger groups too, since you’re able to let everyone in your circle know what you’re up to at once.

Texting & Texting Apps.

As long as you have a phone and/or internet connection, you can communicate in real time with people anywhere in the world via text, or other messaging apps. Apps such as Whatsapp allow you to create groups to communicate with too, making it easier to have conversations with many people at once, no matter where they live.

Skype.  

Sometimes, nothing beats a face to face interaction. Luckily there is Skype. Skype allows you to talk live with others online, and through video, with anyone in the world, no matter where you live. It’s the perfect fix when you really just need to see that special someone you’re missing.

While all of these tools are great to use, we know that it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day demands of life, making it hard to stay in touch. Our best tip? Start a ritual and stick to it. Send your family member a quick email regularly just to check in and let them know about your day. Set up a weekly Skype date with your pals and chat while you’re all eating breakfast together. Get all of your siblings to sign up to WhatsApp and start an ongoing conversation chain. These efforts are what will really make you feel connected – no matter where you live.