Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Denial is more than the name of a river in Egypt...

The first time I had stress incontinence, I was in my early teens. I was with my best friend, C, and we were laughing so hard I lost control of my bladder. I was shocked and embarrassed, but C kindly acted like it was no big deal. That first time it happened I thought it was simply a fluke; a sign of how funny C was, or so I told myself. Sure, I sometimes lost a bit of urine when I sneezed…but that happened to everyone, right? And when I was young, it only happened on rare occasions, so it wasn’t really a problem.

In my mid 20’s and early 30’s though, late in each pregnancy it became a regular problem that lasted for several months afterward. I hated it, but I wore the bulky pads and religiously did my Kegels and assumed everything would be fine, and for a few years maybe that was true, until one day when I was in my 50’s and I realized that it had become a real problem, because all day, every day, I was leaking a little bit of urine if I so much as walked fast.

So, like so many other boomer women, I started buying pads. I was mortified the first time I had to go looking for those in the grocery store, so it was a huge relief to see the endless variety of choices, which made me realize that although none of my friends were talking about it, this must be a rather common problem. So I stocked up on pads and Googled incontinence and read endless articles about the various treatment options that were available, none of which sounded very good.

I hated the pads for so many reasons. Among other things, they chafed. I began walking for exercise, and a couple of years ago I got pretty serious about it, and began to wear a pedometer to keep track of my steps. Most days, no matter what the weather, I’d do a brisk 3 to 5 mile walk through my neighborhood, which was great, and very enjoyable, except that all that pounding on the pavement caused me to lose urine. So of course I wore pads, but with the nonstop movement, the pads chafed me so badly that my skin was often raw by the time I got home. So in addition to the pads, I began buying tubes and tubes of Desitin Ointment, and yet, because I found the whole situation horribly embarrassing, when I saw Dr. P once a year for my pap smear and she asked about incontinence, I would smile politely and say, "Oh no, that's not a problem, not for me!”

Then I read about the InTone Device, and the next day I was calling to schedule an appointment to get it. InTone is a durable medical device that helps women regain control of their bladder function in the comfort of their own homes using a combination of muscle stimulation and biofeedback. I don't work for the company that manufactures it, and I don't own any of their stock, etc., but I do own the device, and it works. It can be purchased from various healthcare providers who are certified as InTone specialists, or it can be purchased online if you submit a medical necessity form completed by your doctor.

I’m 64 years old, and two weeks after I'd begun using it I was able to stop wearing pads, even on my 3 to 5 mile walks. I’m a born skeptic, so if someone had told me this was possible, I wouldn’t have believed it, and yet I'm definite proof that it is.

I still have room for improvement. I know this because I'm able to see that I still can’t contract my pelvic muscles to the full range of the device, and on rare occasions, if I cough hard or sneeze unexpectedly, I still sometimes lose a bit of urine, but it’s a very small amount; a few drops or perhaps a teaspoon at most; not enough to require me to wear a pad.

I’ll never go back to pads, and I can’t tell you how good it feels to be able to say that.

I’m so grateful that this option exists. It’s expensive, but it's cheaper than surgery, and to paraphrase an old commercial: the ability to sneeze or cough or laugh without an involuntary loss of urine...that's priceless.


pam said...

What a great post! Thank you for sharing!

emmapeelDallas said...

You're welcome!

Memphis Steve said...

Many years ago you left a comment on one of my blog posts. I just today stumbled across it again and decided to see if you were still around. There are so few of us left. I'm glad to see that you're still here.