Stories to inspire action
We all understand that the subject of incontinence is considered taboo and carries with it an unnecessary and, frankly, an unfair stigma. Fear of embarrassment is the biggest obstacle to overcome. Yet once people with incontinence make the decision to speak with their physician and map out a treatment plan, their lives open up. Managing their conditions, people of all ages begin to live fuller lives. The kinds of lives each of us deserve and earn to live.
While you may still be on the other side looking in, may these stories inspire you to get help and take back your life!
I think if every man is honest, they never really, truly feel older than 18. I never have despite what the thinning hair, expanding belt line, and the mirror have been trying to tell me for years. Well, make that I hadn't felt my years until I had to deal with an enlarged prostate. Aside from the uncomfortable moments with the doctor once a year during the digital exam, I never gave the prostate a second thought. But once it started to enlarge, well, not trying to be funny, but it got in the way of me seeing a baseball game with my grandson.
The sudden urge to go the bathroom would come up quickly and strong. I couldn't bear the thought of being at the game with Nate and having to run to the john every inning. I know that the bathrooms at the park aren't the most fun places to be, especially when you've got your buddy with you and the irrepressible desire to urinate NOW just hammering in your head. The last thing I wanted was for my first grandson to see me wet myself.
So instead, I avoided it. For years. What a waste! I saw those special years start to tick by. I finally decided to get over myself and talk to my doctor. While the thought of going under the knife scared me to death, I kept thinking, "but what kind of life am I living? If I kept cutting people out and stopped doing the things I Ioved, could it really be much worse?"
So I set opening day as my happy and healthy day and worked backwards to schedule the TUIP operation. I left plenty of time for recovery and needed every day of it. But as the pitchers and catchers started to report, I was feeling much better. I eyed April 2nd with as much anticipation as the boys of summer. And my grandson and I counted down the days together.
They say no team wins the World Series in April, but to sit next to Nate, teach him how to keep score, and grab a few dogs and a beer (hey, I deserved it!) was just as good as seeing a Game 7 in October as far as I'm concerned. During the seventh inning stretch, all I could think was "Why did I wait?" And when the hometown nine won it on a walk off double, I thought "I'm glad I didn't wait a second longer."–John Kreanger, 63
A little leakage is a small price to pay for having brought three great kids into this world. That's what I would tell myself and you know, there is a lot truth in that. Love my kids. And I can't imagine my life without them.
I had to deal with some wetness, big deal, right? Plu. I thought it would just go away. You know, the body would rebound eventually after childbirth. Then one month became six months. Then a year of dealing with wetting my underwear gave way to five years of trying to figure out how to hide my accidents. And because I was unsure when or what might cause it, I just started to pull my life closer.
When friends would invite me over, I'd find a way out. More times than not, I would use my kids' busy schedule as an excuse. Seemed appropriate. But that only worked for so long. And it NEVER worked with my husband. He knew I was struggling. But he never wanted to embarrass me or push me.
So we suffered. In silence.
It wasn't till Brian's 45th birthday that things came to a no-return discussion. When I casually asked him what he wanted for his birthday, I was expecting the usual "football tickets" or "fishing gear" sort of stuff. He just looked at me and said, "I want you to laugh." The look on his face was so sincere. So honest. It shocked me. Had I really been so uptight that I was even avoiding laughing?
Obviously I was. I felt like I let him down. So I started to use that against myself as another reason not to address my incontinence. But during my OBGYN physical, I brought it up with my doctor, thinking she'd tell me that was "all part of aging" and "the price for being a Mom." She didn't. She gave me tons to think about, gave me some discreet pads to help manage the accidents for the time being, and challenged me to get into training with kegels.
Kegels. This is the same doctor who advised me after each child to do these pelvic floor exercises. And I didn't. When was there time? I had three kids!!!
It took me some time after the visit to get serious about making kegels part of my daily routine. But they have been helping. And the best part is, I can feel them making me stronger.
I know incontinence keeps people from doing big fancy things like going to Europe or even horseback riding. For me, getting control of it meant I could go to the comedy club with my husband again and have a laugh. Now that is a relief.
–Barbara Stewart, 46