As a woman, it should be easy you would think, when it comes to getting used to using incontinence pads, after all, they are exactly like the pads we use when menstruating. For me, there is one huge problem with that, the last time I did that, was 31 years ago. I know that my memory is better when it comes to the past than the present, but even that is pushing it for me. I had a hysterectomy when I was just 24. I know that that is something most women find really hard to handle even when it happens to them later in life, for me, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I had my first period when I was just 8 and they had been nothing but a nuisance from that day on. In fact, it was one of the reasons that I loved being pregnant, so when I woke from an anesthetic to be told they had had no other option, I wasn’t sorry to hear it in any way. I felt as though I had been given my life back and that I, at last, had the freedom to live. Finding myself faced once again with no other option than to wear pads, really hit me hard. These last few days, haven’t just been about getting used to the fact that my bladder is now failing me big style, it has been about learning how to wear pads and getting used to not just trusting them, but just the feel of them.
For those of you female readers old enough to remember what sanitary products were like back in the early 1980’s, you will remember that they were nothing like today’s. Back then, if you didn’t use tampons, which frequently leaked, or if you needed the extra protection of a towel, well that’s what they were like, a rolled up piece of kitchen towel , backed with plastic and wrapped in net. Thick, uncomfortable and frequently leaked. Being faced by the modern ultra-thin pads of today, well trust is hard to find. Even finding it in the more familiar looking maxi pads, is tough as you still expect them to leak as they did in the past. My experiment of a couple of days ago when I poured a full mug of water into the night-time pad, helped me a lot, but it didn’t help with the comfort issues. It has taken me a full week to work out just where to position them and how best to make them stay there.
The first time I opened the pack, I did what I thought was the logical thing, to attach the centre of the pad, to the centre of the crotch in my knickers, then pull them up. For people who lead a normal life that might be fine, but I rarely stand and do nothing but sit or lie down. They rucked and twisted, the edges kept unsticking and them sticking to my skin. I just couldn’t get it right. I know that some of you by now are thinking didn’t she read the pack, it’s covered in information. Well, I can’t. My eyesight is atrocious and although Adam bought them for me, I was too embarrassed to ask him to sit there and read all the information on them. I did try to read them myself, but my glasses aren’t strong enough and even using a magnifying glass failed me totally. I headed to the website and was astounded that they told you loads about skin care, types of towels and pants but still not the help I needed. I have at last found a way that is difficult but works. It entails placing them correctly between my legs while standing and hoping it will stay there, while I pull my knickers up, then pressing the adhesive strip to the material. Trust me, it is difficult, but it works. As standing is getting more and more difficult, I quite honestly don’t see how I will manage it in the future. Comfort is important, there is nothing worse than sitting all day with something sticking into you. As bad as the old pads were, you could at least adjust them when needed, you can’t with the modern ones, as they slowly stop sticking and then we’re back to them twisting and rucking. Do I really have to face a lifetime of sitting on my blow up cushion?
It’s one of a million little things that in time will become big things. It appears that as far as pads go, whether I like it or not, I am going to be forced eventually to wear those all in one products. No matter how many different brands I look at, they all scream one thing N-A-P-P-Y! Do we really face a future of being treated and dressed like babies, simply because it’s easier that way? I know it’s such a small thing, and yes, no one sees them, apart from us and eventually our carers, but we’re still adults who want to be treated and dressed as one. Just simply doing something like offering a range of colours rather than nothing but white, would be a start. It’s not that hard to find out the most popular colours of knickers that are sold, then offer their nappies in those colours. I for one without a doubt would feel that bit better about wearing the black version, rather than the white ones, I know it’s just colour, but they just wouldn’t feel like nappies.
When our lives are being stripped away from us in huge ways, if we can at least hold on to our dignity and feeling like adults, rather than as though we are digressing to childhood. It really is those small things that make the difference. I have fought to keep my home as my home, I’ve refused to let it look like a hospital, by taking time and thought and finding products that fit, not stand out, but here I am caught with one I can’t escape. Yes, there are now pants that have an inbuilt pad and are pretty and washable, but they only deal with leakage and are too expensive for most. Once more we are forgotten, we are expected just to accept and put up with it, but I don’t want to and I bet, most of those millions don’t want to either, whether they are male or female. No, I haven’t forgotten about you guys, I know, it’s just as bad for you too.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 04/17/2014 – One last chance
Yesterday afternoon went almost as I expected and I was almost right as to what the role of an MS Support Worker is. They are the halfway house between me, doctors, social work and volunteer agencies, so not qualified as any but with an idea of all, sounds like a lot of jobs these days, a bit of this and a bit of that but none totally. We sat and talked for about half an hour and went over the things that I……