Guest Post: Urinary Incontinence Stop Me? No Way!

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A guest post by writer and blogger Lisa Winkler.  I asked Lisa to write this post in response to a comment she made on a Friend for the Ride post, Prolapse: Fix It with Duck Tape?  Thanks, Lisa!

About the time I started running—in my mid-40—I started leaking.  The situation gradually got worse. Much more than the slight trickle after a cough or sneeze, I’d return from a run soaked through.  I ran with a group of women, usually early Saturday mornings, about 6-8 miles.   I remember when the leader, a marathon runner, invited everyone for a post-run brunch to celebrate her birthday. I drove to her house, where the run would begin and end, followed by the brunch party. I packed a change of clothes. After the run, I couldn’t wait to get into the bathroom to change. Everyone else stayed in her athletic clothes. The host didn’t care if our sweaty bottoms sat on her dining room chairs. But I knew better.

Soon after, I decided I needed to see my urologist. I couldn’t stand running and leaking. My inner thighs were  chafed from the moisture. And I wasn’t going to stop running.

I had a relationship already with Dr. Yitzhak Berger. A few years before, I’d developed interstitial cystitis, or IC. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001508/)

Teaching at the time, I’m convinced it occurred due to job stress and the lack of free time to go to the restroom. It’s a known fact that teachers contract an unusual amount of urinary tract infections. A colleague and friend of mine, suffered from the same condition. We’d often meet at the doctor’s office.

After about nine months on medication that was supposed to alleviate the symptoms—you don’t ever really recover from IC- I had an in-office procedure, a hyperextension of the bladder. Basically they blow up the bladder like a balloon and that for whatever reason lessons the painful, irritating symptoms. It worked.  Though I sometimes get minor bouts of IC, it’s manageable.

So I want back to Dr. Berger. Getting an appointment can take weeks and then you wait and wait. He takes his time with patients.  An Israeli man who looks like Woody Allen, I always enjoyed seeing him and trusted his expertise. In a practice of 9 other all male urologists, he was the only one dedicated to women’s health and a specialist in Female Urology Urodynamics.

While too many years have passed for me to remember my exact words, I’m quite sure I said to him: “I’m not leaving until you fix this,” referring to the leakage.

He couldn’t do anything that day but suggested I consider an outpatient procedure that he’d been involved with inventing.  I didn’t have to think twice; I took his first available slot to have him place a TVT or trans-vaginal tape that supports the urethra like a hammock and prevents incontinence.

This procedure changed my life. No longer did I worry about wetting my pants during a run and could socialize after without fear of reeking like an unchanged diaper.

Now in my 50’s, and more a cyclist than a runner, I’m finding a bit of urinary incontinence from riding. New reports say that cycling affects women’s sexual health too.  If my conditions get worse, I’ll return to Dr. Berger. As far as cycling and sexual health, I put my trust in my bike shop mechanic who has fitted my bike to my body: if the handlebars and seat are correctly placed, and I’m not riding for 12 hours a day, I’m not worried.

So ladies. Find an urologist you can trust.  There’s no need to endure discomfort or embarrassment due to urinary issues. Thanks to Barbara for encouraging me to write about my experience.

Lisa K. Winkler’s blog: http://cyclingrandma.wordpress.com/ chronicles her opinions and observations. She’s the author of On the Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America.  Find out more at her website: www.lisakwinkler.com

17 responses »

  1. I am so grateful to recognize that I am not alone. When allergy season strikes, it is a nightmare. I had hoped that I would not have to deal with this until MUCH later in life. I am also pleased to know that there is HOPE! Thank you for being so vulnerable and honest.

    • You’re welcome! I’d never have written about it unless Barbara asked! She’s the heroine for bringing women’s health issues to the forefront. Some things we can laugh at; others are not at all humorous. Good luck as you pursue solutions.

  2. I don’t have this particular problem – yet!! – but thank you for your frankness. It really helps when we open up to others; we can learn a lot! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great post! Although I don’t currently suffer from this problem, I may later on in life; I’m only 32. As a cyclist and a runner, I found this very helpful.

  4. lisa, thanks so much for your honest and open post. sometimes i feel like…what else could fall apart!! this is definitely an annoying aging health issue. i often wonder if the constant hormonal fluctuations have an influence. it seems to be up and down and not always predictable. again, thank you for sharing your experience with us and thank you barbara for urging us all on to share!

  5. Lisa, Thanks so much for writing this post! Lots of women have benefited from reading this info in the last few days, and will continue to as it pops up on google searches on the topic.

  6. Thank you Barbara, for asking me to write about it. I’d never have done so on my own.
    My son commented in an email to me- I hope he posts it– important to see that men need to understand!

    • Oh I hope he comments. I get very few comments from men. Tell him he’ll get brownie points from menopausal women everywhere (probably NOT on his A list of exciting activities!)

  7. Thank you, Lisa, for this great eye-opening post. And thank you, Barbara, for inviting Lisa to share her story.

    Not only is it so incredibly important to let women know they are not “the only one,” but the information you shared is invaluable.

    We know we should be doing our kegels (reminder right here: https://friendfortheride.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/m-2/) but it’s also important, like you said, Lisa, to not ignore the leakage problem or chalk it up to getting old. I didn’t know there was a solution. Again, thank you for sharing that information with us. Now I can pass it on to my friends who have hinted (yes, it’s still an embarrassment issue) at the fact that they are leaking.

    I also didn’t know about the incidence of urinary tract infections in teachers, but it makes sense. Here’s another concern – my granddaughter, who is 10, was getting frequent UTI… at 10. Seemed a bit odd, until she told her mother that she wasn’t going to the bathroom at school, at all, not even once. Good LORD! She didn’t feel she had enough time between classes and was definitely not going to raise her hand to be excused during class.

    So, my daughter went to the school and had a talk with the teacher, telling her how concerned she was about this and the whole health issue situation. The teacher was very understanding and instituted her own policy to allow kids to exit her classroom without raising their hand to ask for permission (or be tardy a few minutes) without reprimand if they needed to use the bathroom. Oftentimes, the departing or tardy kid isn’t even noticed BUT if they raise their hand, they draw attention to themselves. I thought it was wise of my daughter to go to the teacher rather than try to convince my granddaughter to go pee when she needed to!

    My granddaughter even took her mother’s advice and started going pee at home on a more regular basis to retrain her bladder, and took it upon herself to set a timer for 1 hour and every time it goes off, she heads for the bathroom. Amazingly, she found out she actually could go pee AND she felt better. Since this all happened, the incidence of UTI has been zero. She no longer goes potty on a timer, but she’s learned how important it is. Good training for a girl to have, don’t you think?

    Okay, TMI? Maybe. But as you pointed out, we need to talk about what’s happening with our bodies so we can try to fix the problem and not just accept it. Thanks again, Lisa, for your candid and informative post.

    • This is a huge problem for teachers. In most schools, you can’t just let kids leave when they need to- – I always found it so humiliating that kids had to ask to go to the bathroom but until I knew the kids, I couldn’t allow them to go without asking— some just wanted to get out of class and could get into trouble in the halls.

      • There is that. I suppose it is hard to maintain control, especially if a few kids figure out how to game the system and skip out. I called my daughter and asked if she knew how the teacher handled the control issue. She said the kids pick up a ‘hall pass’ on the way out and have to show it to the hall monitor, who is a teacher’s aide, and they write the time down on it. Then they have to show it again to get back into the class. I guess it’s been working, so far.

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