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