Being Proactive About Finding Peace

Finding Peace

Inner peace is an important tool in managing stress. It can also be an important tool in managing your incontinence. Studies show that cognitive therapy and learning the link between your brain and your bladder can help improve your incontinence symptoms. Being proactive in your treatment plan, and incorporating practices that encourage stillness, may be key to managing your incontinence effectively.

Finding peace or stillness looks different for everyone, but typically benefits everyone in the same way. When you learn what helps you relax, you can focus more clearly, experience more energy, and handle emotional stressors with greater maturity.

Being proactive about finding peace can mean a lot of different things for a lot of different people. For some, being proactive means scheduling regular yoga sessions, always calling a friend on a certain day of the week, or intentionally taking the long way home from work.

When we’re proactive about caring for ourselves, we allow peace to become a part of our daily lives; giving us much needed stillness for our bodies and mind. Talk to your doctor about how cognitive therapy may work for you.

How are you proactive about finding peace in your life? 

How Can You Best Communicate With Your Doctor?

How To Communicate With Your Doctor

The relationship you have with your doctor is a very important part of maintaining good health.  Read below for some tips to make the most of your time with him.

Be honest and up front about your symptoms and health habits. 

While some conditions, such as incontinence, may feel embarrassing to discuss, your doctor needs to know what you are going through so that he or she can help you.  Open communication is best and telling your doctor the type and severity of your symptoms can help in developing the best treatment plan for you. 

Be prepared.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember everything.  And when you are discussing several topics with your doctor in a short window of time, it’s not surprising that some things may get left unsaid.  Being prepared helps.  Keep good records of your symptoms (our bladder diary and ABL conversation starter can help!) and make a list of all the things that you would like to discuss with your doctor before your appointment to ensure you don’t forget anything.

Be assertive. 

Your doctor may be the one with the medical degree, but you know your body best.  If something doesn’t feel right or you are struggling with a treatment, speak up!  There may be different options you can try that might work better for you.

Have regular communication. 

As with most things, prevention is key.  Seeing your doctor regularly for check ups and keeping him abreast of any symptoms or conditions you may be experiencing is well worth it. 

Ask your physician about alternative methods of connecting. 

In this day and age, doctors communicate with patients in all sorts of ways, not just on the exam table.  Ask your doctor if you are able to email him to check in or ask questions.  Most offices have nurses on call to help you with questions over the phone.  There are even services that allow you to chat with a doctor online and receive a diagnosis and treatment plan right from your living room!

Have some more tips on staying in touch with your doctor?  Share them in the comments below!

5 Preventative Steps For A Healthy Bladder

5 Preventative Steps For A Healthy Bladder

Think incontinence is an inevitable part of aging?  Think again.  There are lots of things that you can do to improve your bladder health that don’t involve a trip to the doctor, medications, or surgery. 

Here are 5 ways you can help keep your bladder in check.

Watch what you eat and drink. 

For those with incontinence, what we eat and drink can greatly affect our bladders.  Make sure you are making healthy choices and avoiding bladder irritants.  And to learn what your bladder triggers are, keep a bladder diary.

Keep a healthy weight. 

Extra weight can put pressure on your bladder.  Make sure that you get regular exercise and pay attention to what you are eating to ensure you are maintaining an optimal weight.

Kegels. 

You’ve heard it before, and it’s worth repeating.  Just as regular exercise can benefit other parts of the body, these little exercises for your pelvic floor can help to strengthen the muscles to promote better bladder control.  Follow these steps to know that you are doing them correctly.

Avoid constipation and trouble voiding. 

Having a full rectum can create pressure on the bladder.  Additionally, sitting on the toilet for too long or straining during a bowel movement can cause damage to your pelvic floor.  Take steps to avoid constipation (eat well and drink lots of water) and reexamine your voiding posture

Don’t smoke. 

We all know that smoking is bad for you, but did you know it can affect your continence too?  Nicotine and smoke are bladder irritants and can be triggers for incontinence, making it one more reason to quit.

Share with us!  Tell us how you keep your bladder healthy in the comments below!

Pessaries And Non-Surgical Options For Prolapse Treatment

Pessaries and Non-surgical options for prolapse treatment

I always wanted a large family.  After giving birth to and raising 4 children, I think I’ve pretty much fulfilled that dream.  My family is everything that I expected it would be.  What I never expected, however, was to have a prolapsed bladder.

I discovered it when I turned 63.  I had a feeling of heaviness “down there” for a while, but didn’t really think anything of it. I experienced a few accidents in the months before my birthday but thought they were just that – accidents. I was wrong. I went to the doctor for my usual check up, tried to explain what I was experiencing, and he told me I may have a prolapse. Prolapse is when the muscles supporting your bladder, rectum and uterus weaken. This weakening can cause your organs to fall into or through the opening of the vagina. This can happen to any woman with or without vaginal childbirth, but women who have had strain on their vaginal muscles (ahem, birthing 4 children) are at greater risk. After an examination, my doctor diagnosed me with a cystocele, or a prolapsed bladder.

At first I was horrified – the thought of an organ protruding, even slightly, sounded appalling.  What would this mean?  How would it affect my day-to-day life? Would things progress to a level greater than what I was already experiencing? ? 

Luckily for me, my prolapse is mild.  My doctor told me that as long as my symptoms were not causing me much harm, surgery was likely not necessary.  Some pelvic organ prolapse (POP) will improve on its own through watchful waiting, although my doctor said it is not possible to identify whose POP will improve with time. A common treatment option for those who do not want or need surgery is a pessary.

Pessaries are silicon devices that come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are placed in the vagina to provide support to the pelvic organs. Because each woman is different, the pessaries need to be fitted to the individual.  I decided to give it a try and was fitted three different times before the final size was decided.  I’ve had it in for 3 months so far and it is comfortable and seems to be treating the feeling of heaviness I had been experiencing very well.  It does require some upkeep and needs to be removed and cleaned on a regular basis, however this is easy to do and even if you have trouble, you can have the pessary removed and regularly cleaned by your provider. 

In addition to my pessary, my doctor also prescribed a vaginal estrogen.  This helps lubricate the area and reduce the risk of irritation or ulceration.  It also reduces the risk of getting a urinary tract infection.

Never in a million years did I think this would happen to me – I didn’t even really know it was possible to be honest. But thanks to my pessary, I’m able to easily manage my symptoms and live my life the way I want to.

How To Drink More Water

How To Drink More Water

We’ve all heard that drinking more water can help improve our health. Even the first lady, Michelle Obama, is making serious strides to encourage people to drink more H20. Drink UP, the movement sponsored by the Partnership for a Healthier America (and for which Mrs. Obama is the Honorary Chair) has already encouraged a big boost of water consumption in grocery stores, restaurants and homes across America since its inception in 2013.  

There’s good reason for the push. Drinking water has been shown to have a host of benefits, ranging from increased energy, better overall health, and better mood. These benefits are not lost on your bladder either – staying well hydrated can help keep your bladder functioning well and can flush out your urinary tract, preventing bladder infections. 

Here are some ways that will have you raising your glass to more water.

 Add your own flavoring. 

Sure, there are lots of flavor packets out there designed to spice up your water.  But why not add your own?  Try adding watermelon, cucumber, or lemon to your glass for an extra flavor boost.

Invest in your health. 

Splurge on a cool water bottle that you’ll actually enjoy using.  We love the Eddy Water Bottle from Camelbak, which comes in a wide variety of colors to choose from.

 Eat more water rich foods. 

Water-rich foods, such as soup, celery, grapes, and oranges can also help you stay hydrated. 

Temper your drinking. 

Drinking a glass of water for every glass of alcohol while out to dinner can help you stay hydrated and avoid the negative effects that an extra glass of wine might have on your bladder.

Get some help. 

Need some encouragement?  Use the iPhone app, Waterlogged, to set reminders and chart your water consumption over time.

Have some tips of your own?  Share them with us in the comments below!

How TO Be Prepared In A New Environment

How To Be Prepared In a New Environment

Going to a new place or an event you’ve never been to, can be challenging if you struggle with continence. Not only do you need to consider the normal variables when you’re on the way, like weather and parking, but once you get there you might want to be alert to restrooms, exits, vending machines, and customer service personnel.

Here’s our best advice for being able to find what you need in a new setting:

  • Check out the location’s website and see if the page offers a web tour so you can get a lay of the land
  • Call ahead and ask for the manager. Ask them to spend five minutes going over the basic locations of your highest need items
  • Arrive an additional 15 minutes early and give yourself your own tour
  • Introduce yourself to staff and ask them about any quirks or maintenance that may cause areas of need to be closed or filed off

At the end of the day, you’re just avoiding surprises. Everyone has similar needs when they go out to new places, so be proactive about ways you can improve your experience in a new place. 

How Your Spouse Can Keep You Honest

How Your Spouse Can Keep You Honest

When you first met your spouse years ago, you were enthralled with how they made you feel. Seeing one another and spending time together was really all you needed to feel giddy, happy, and complete.

Life continued its course, your relationship progressed, and with the years came successes and challenges. Honesty, with both with your partner and yourself, likely played a huge factor in how you tackled those challenges.

Tackling your incontinence deserves the same level of honesty you’ve used in other situations. The person you chose to spend the rest of your life with is your best mirror and they will have the most insight into how to keep you accountable with your care and how to help you live a full life. To leave them out of the conversation about your health is taking away one of the best assets you will have in managing your care and moving away from embarrassment and secrecy.

We believe honesty is the best policy and asking for help is a good thing. We also believe that those who are most close to you can be the biggest supporters in your life. Use that insight and commitment to your advantage and ask for help in every day things. Practicing this in other aspects of life will trickle into your health, too!

Here are five ways your spouse can keep you honest:

1. Pick a designated time during the day or the week when you give one another one piece of positive reinforcement and one suggestion for improvement.

Example of positive reinforcement: “You were so helpful this week doing the laundry while I was at coffee with my friend.” OR “I think John really appreciated your phone call to him this weekend—great job reaching out!”

Example of a suggested improvement: “Next time you call me on your way to work, could you please say ‘I love you’?” OR “I felt like you didn’t really want to help me rake the yard this weekend. Next time I ask for help can you be up front if you’re in a bad mood?”

2. Choose a household item that can serve as a reminder to you that you need to check-in with your treatment plan.

This could be a figurine, candle, or paperweight. Decide on a place for this item to be placed and ask your spouse to put this item in that designated place when they think you need to re-evaluate your treatment plan. Maybe you haven’t been taking your medicine as prescribed or you’ve avoided drinking water like your doctor recommended.

Let this object be a check in that your spouse can initiate.  

3. Swap household duties (within reason) with your spouse for one week and report back at the end of the swap.  Discuss ways you have both made assumptions about the other’s work or how you can display gratitude for their help more often. 

Pick a few chores that your significant other typically does and do them for a week instead. Report back to them at the end of the week and discuss the challenges of walking in their shoes for a week.

4. Designate a jar or vase on your dresser or somewhere in your personal space that serves as a compliment jar.

Ask your spouse to use this jar as a way to compliment you on areas of treatment you’re excelling in. Use the jar in the same way for areas of their health and life they’re looking to improve.

Read the compliments before going to bed every week or every month.

5. Give yourself a report card every season and ask your spouse to check your grading.  

Sketch a basic grading rubric with boxes for each area of life you’re looking to improve in (i.e. sleep, diet, exercise, downtime, community), fill out your own evaluation, and go over the details with your spouse. Discuss goals you can set to improve in the next season.

Tell us how you keep the lines of communication open with your spouse in the comments below.

What To Do If You Are Stuck In A Rut

Are You Stuck In A Rut?

We all go through it. Life gets busy, days turn into weeks, and before you know it, another year has gone by without  the positive changes we need to move forward and evolve. When you’re stuck in a rut, it’s hard to find the motivation you need to get yourself out of it.

Here are some big questions you can ask yourself to discover what parts of your life plan may need a lift.

Are you taking care of Your Body?

Your body is one of your most important assets and keeping it healthy should be at the top of your list.  What are you doing to ensure that you are keeping things in good working order? 

  • Are you eating the right foods? Eating a balanced breakfast, including lots of nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables and lean protein in your meals is just the start of what the USDA recommends when considering your diet. Check out their weight management plan here.

  • Are you drinking enough water? Water makes up roughly 60 percent of your body weight! It’s no wonder we need to stay hydrated to ensure our organs and systems are performing optimally. The amount of water needed varies by person, but the Mayo Clinic recommends 9 cups for women and about 13 cups for men, daily.

  • Do you exercise regularly? Finding a good workout routine can be hard, but don’t overthink it. Consider regular exercise as a way to keep your engines running. And if you’re just starting out, keep it simple – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise moderate activity (i.e., brisk walking) for 30 minutes, 5 times a week, plus muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week. Staying active not only helps keep you physically fit, but also keeps you sharp too. Which leads us to….

Are you feeding Your Mind?

Studies show that how you spend your time has a big impact on your mental health.  Those who are more active, social, and challenge themselves in different ways tend to stay sharper longer. 

  • Are you challenging yourself enough? Performing a variety of activities, such as reading, solving puzzles, working with your hands, and strengthening your memory with games, helps keep your mind active. Make sure to mix it up every once in a while so you challenge your mind in different ways.

  • Are you setting attainable goals? Challenging yourself is great, but make sure your goals - both daily and long term - are attainable and realistic. Otherwise, you’ll get burnt out trying to reach them.

  • Are you opening yourself up to new experiences? Staying social, taking a class on a new subject, or trying new things help us not only enhance our mind, but also make us more passionate about life and more interesting to others.

Are you nourishing Your Soul?

Your emotional well-being is a huge part of remaining happy and healthy, yet many people tend to overlook that part of their life.  Are you performing the necessary activities to enrich your soul?

  • Do you practice mindfulness? Staying mindful can help to boost your memory, reduce stress, stay calm, focus better, and makes us more satisfied in our relationships, according to the American Psychological Association.

  • Do you practice gratitude? Being grateful helps us to focus on the good in life. Try starting a gratitude journal to become more optimistic and happier.

  • Have you ever meditated? Regular meditation not only helps improve your health, but it can reduce stress, improve concentration, and increase self-awareness. Click here to learn some tips on how to start.

Are you spending enough time with Your Family or social network?

Often, our family is the strongest social network that we have.  Do you make an effort to keep those ties strong?

  • Do you set aside time to spend with them? Going on bike rides, cooking together, or even a weekly phone call helps to keep family relationships going strong.

  • Do you have family traditions? Traditions can help turn ordinary events into more meaningful celebrations and bring one another together.

  • Do you look for common interests? Finding ways to connect with family members can help strengthen ties.

Are you happy with Your Career?

You spend a lot of time in your chosen profession. Yet for many people, the demands of everyday life keep them from moving ahead or finding their true passion. Are you happy with what you are doing every day?

  • Are you excited to go to work every day? If the answer is no, ask yourself why. Do you enjoy your career but not your current company? Do you like the company but not your direct manager? Do you feel uninspired by your profession? Figure out what is important to you and make the changes to improve your happiness in your work life.

  • Are you ready for a promotion? Do you feel you are ready to take on a new role or responsibility? Don’t wait for a promotion to come to you – go get it! Here are some ways to ask for a promotion.

Taking the time to examine your life and where you want to be will help get you back to the path you want to be on!

Tell us:  How do you handle getting out of a rut?