I am an over-sharer by trade, so if there are issues that even I squirm about, then I can guarantee there will be a bloated belly full of folk who really won’t talk about their bladder, bowels, and certainly not incontinence.
Actually, I know there are a number of us searching for bedpans, nappies aka incontinence pants, and large pads as we endeavour to keep our online shopping cookies and ‘another wet night,’ a ‘dirty secret.’
Even as an oversharer I have found myself temporarily housebound at the mere fear of anyone discovering my ‘addiction’ to buying ‘just in case’ sanitary products or worst still exposing my bladder and bowel ‘issue.’
But I had a tugging, not just to go to the loo for the umpteenth time today but to write openly about the fact that aged 33, I am no longer desperate to buy the latest gadget deal but to shop for BOGOF incontinence pads which I add to my home ‘stash,’ concealed inside my Ottoman bed.
I make sure spares are readily at hand in my rucksack.
I have even changed how I dress and what I wear because my bowels nearly killed me recently, but now I am grateful that my gut is healing to the point I can finally undergo life-changing surgery the consultant in front of me, the following day is explaining.
“You’re very young compared to most patients we see so we will do our best to keep the invasive procedure to a minimum, but there are no exercises or physio which will rectify your condition.”
She had already done full checks over the past few years on my ‘lady parts,’ as many women I know call them, I am quite blunt compared to most however with my language.
I start welling up as she explains the open surgery I am facing but more out of relief because I am at a stage in my life where I feel fairly comfortable in my own skin and happy to do what I can to help solve some of my issues… and for me, the biggest most exhausting side effect isn’t vanity over scarring but the incontinence. And whilst I am the youngest out of the patients in today’s clinic and one of the only people talking about it, I am not alone in experiencing such issues- not in age, gender, ethnicity, or any other ‘category.’
Those in society who pluck up the courage to seek help make up more than 5 percent of the population.
Incontinence UK estimates that around 7 million people in the UK alone experience urinary incontinence (5-10% of the population).
“The fact that many do not even see a Doctor means this proportion could be even higher.
“Fewer than half of adults with severe urinary incontinence seek help from healthcare providers. One study found that men would rather admit to sexual impotence than symptoms of incontinence. Women are a little bit more open about the issue, sharing these problems on websites such as “Mumsnet” and “Women’s Health”. However, still, only 1 in 5 women claim that they seek help for incontinence issues, the rest keep it a secret. We clearly still do need to spread incontinence awareness for both sexes.”
Urinary and faecal incontinence has a detrimental impact on your life, sleep, finances, and bedding, not to mention your confidence.
And whilst talking openly about it feels as uncomfortable as waking up in a wet bed, knowing you have to also deal with the laundry, it is for this reason I have the urge to talk about it because so many people are suffering in silence and remain housebound until they are older.
Now thanks to the female consultant who not only listened to me but will be taking action to oversee a team of surgeons who’ll be transforming my life one organ at a time.
Regardless of the scars, I know I will feel more confident than ever before.