Just after my diagnosis I noticed that I was suffering with what I thought was just stress incontinence and just put it down to my age. Over a few months it progressively got more frequent and not just when I sneezed. so I went to the dr. and told that it was indeed normal for my age, advised to do strengthening exercises and put on duloxetine. Several months later with no improvements I requested to be referred to the incontinence clinic. It has got to the stage with my GP that on the odd occasion I can actually get in to see him I have already researched possible solutions, so I can tell him the direction I wish to go on with treatment. He normally agrees and the appointment goes a lot faster and easier.
It only took a few months for me to get my first appointment and had a fantastic experience. The nurse couldn’t of been more lovely and supportive. I seem to get a lot of comments about being “too young to be ill” and once again my age came into conversation. After a few questions and tests it was determined that I had a mixture of Incontinence issues.
~ Stress – the leaks you get when you sneeze, cough, laugh, exercise, bounce on a trampoline etc
~ Urge – no warning
~ Functional – when you recognise the urge but can’t physically get there in time.
There are other forms of incontinence which are not listed here as I am only relating to my experiences, but if you are living with issues I would of course recommend you speak to your GP.
All was put down to fibromyalgia and I was prescribed some pads, (Up until now I had been using drynites pyjama pants which was costing a fortune) told to wear baggy clothes and advised to look at other ways of possible treatments and way to live with this new challenge.
I was told to look at my lifestyle, and make any changes that were needed. Mainly diet, weight and exercise. I don’t worry about my weight, my BMI says I am overweight but I don’t listen to that and much more concern myself with what my body looks and feels like. I had spent ages not being able to lose weight but as soon as I had my thyroid cysts drained the weight dropped off (I went down from a uk 16 to a uk 8-10 which is wear I have stayed since) it was perfect timing with having to sort out exercise as a new 24 hour gym was being built and ready to open, so I joined. Ok so they don’t offer pelvic floor classes but anything to help my inner core and fitness in general had to be a good thing.
Then I was told I needed a hysterectomy. Needless to say this put plans back a bit and indeed 17 months on from the operation I am still trying to live with it.
So what are your general options when living with incontinence.
~ Keeping to a weight that is healthy for you, and making another other lifestyle changes such as the amount of caffeine you drink (although my nurse said that with everything in my life she understands my need to use caffeine and she also agreed that I didn’t drink too much anyway)
~ Electrical stimulation probes. Which honestly sound so much scarier than they actually are.
~ Vaginal cones – small weights that, yes funnily enough they fit in your vagina and you use them while doing your pelvic floor exercises, which by the way is no longer to the count of 3 but between 5 and 10
~ Bladder training, where you combine pelvic floor exercises to lengthen the time between feeling the urge and actually going to the toilet.
Incontinence products can range from having to have a catheter, using a hand held urinal and absorbent pads or pants which are what I currently use. I stopped using the pads that I was getting on the NHS because even though being the smallest size they could offer they were still too big and were not suitable. It didn’t matter what pants I wore with them they would move around, fold in rather uncomfortable places and then not hold any fluid. When I was around the house it wasn’t the end of the word, But when you’re on your way back from the shop and don’t quite make it home in time then it becomes a whole different matter. I think being British may of helped because if anyone did notice they certainly didn’t make eye contact or say anything while I was still around. I hate the fact I am having to use disposables, not just because of the cost but also because of the impact on the environment. In fact that is the biggest concern and I do not have the initial outlay to try the washable pants especially with between two and four changes a day.
What I wasn’t quite prepared for was the physical impact wearing them. I have had children so the not too nice yet familiar nappy smell wasn’t too bad but the battle of keeping the right PH level means I may as well have shares in canesten and barrier cream to prevent nappy rash. The worst thing though are the cysts. Always where the legs of the nappies rub, I am not sure if it is because they are too big for me or if it because it gets quite warm in those areas. Either way it is not the best thing for feeling good about yourself. I didn’t know that I would subconsciously stop drinking as much as I should be. I get scared of having accidents and having to go through the hassle of having to change because you have to take everything off and put it all back on again, really not good when you’re wobbly on your feet. I may have the knack of it at home but not so much when I am out in public.
All this is still very new to me still, I don’t know ( neither does anyone else) if I will improve or if this is another “for life” thing so all I can do is take it one day at a time. I am still trying out find the right incontinence products so will be blogging about that some more at a later date.