I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, and I never thought that it really was until I found myself here. I have been living in this strange world of not just having to wear knickers, like anyone else does, but another layer of an absorbent pad, now for over three months. Bladder incontinence, it doesn’t sound like much. What can be so tough about wearing a nappy to protect yourself from embarrassment, and your clothes, and home free of pee? Well, once you get past the balancing act required every time you go to the loo, or get dressed, not much, right? Wrong. Like everything else that our health throws at us, there is a lot of adapting to be done. You wouldn’t believe just how hard it is, to accept, no not the fact that your bladder has failed, but the fact that it doesn’t really matter. I still find myself flying to the loo, just to arrive once the whole show is over. Trust me, there is nothing odder than feeling warm liquid collecting between your legs and for it to be perfectly normal, and apparently not an issue.
That’s the first thing that you learn about these incontinence pads, they don’t absorb instantly. The way that they work is to form a sort of trough, where the urine sits until it’s absorbed. The first time I discovered that it was actually quite distressing. I was sure that the whole thing was a complete disaster and at any second, it was going to run everywhere. It didn’t, but just that feeling that it was going to, nearly turned it into one. In some ways, that is why I am writing this because I am sure, the first time it happens to anyone, they must think the exact same thing. Why they don’t explain something that simple to you, I don’t know, but they don’t. They hand you this huge pack and I do mean huge, each is about 18 inches by 10 by 8, and they give you three packs at a time, storage is your first problem. Learning how to put them on the second, and that reservoir of liquid is the third. Unless you wait until it clears, you will be in a mess, so don’t panic, just wait until it clears before trying anything.
It doesn’t matter how many times you feel it, or whether you are alone or in company, the desire to move as fast as you can to the loo, doesn’t seem to get any less. Being in company, just adds more questions into the mix. Is it safer to stay where you are, let it soak in and then go, or take the chance and head out of the room? Both rely totally on one thing, your confidence in how well you’ve positioned that pad. Did you remember to pull those flaps out at the back? Are those elastic strips tight into the fold of skin where your leg joins your body? Are your knickers holding it firmly in place? Which worries you more, pee on your white settee, or it running down your leg and all over your wheelchair? I have to say right here, so far, touch wood, they have never failed me, but that doesn’t stop the fear because the whole thing is totally alien.
We are only a few months old when our parents sit us on a potty and start hammering it into our heads, that we don’t want to have a wet nappy. I still don’t want to have a wet nappy, but unlike every parent I have ever known, when that nappy is wet, it gets replaced with a clean one, I can’t change mine. Those huge packs that they give you, only contain one for every 12 hour period. We are expected to wear the same one, wet or dry for that enter time. I have been lucky, very lucky to have friendly district nurses, they snuck me in another pack, so I don’t have to go through such a thing. I have to admit, that I did try it, not when the pad was soaking, but way beyond a dribble, just to see if I could get past the phycological barriers. I only wore it for an hour and to my surprise, it really wasn’t as bad as I expected. They do pull the liquid away and I didn’t feel wet, just moistened, as though I had some sort of cream that hadn’t been absorbed. I know that the day will come when I won’t be able to keep changing myself as I would today. I will have to wait for someone else to be here, to help me, someone who isn’t Adam. No, I don’t want him changing me, any more than I want him showering me, so the point will come, when I will have to choose which one, would upset me the most. It’s a hard choice.Then there is a question that has circled around in my mind many times, how can it be safe to wear a wet nappy for so long? The most obvious is the question of nappy rash. If it happens to babies, it must happen to adults as well. I know that our skin isn’t as delicate, but our urine is more powerful. Then there is the question of infection. Surely, all those bacteria circling around the entrance to your bladder has to raise the chances of bladder infections? What better environment can there be for those nasty little bugs to grow and to do their worst, yet that’s where we are told they should stay. How can that be right?
Becoming incontinent isn’t just about the day you first wet yourself, or even when you see the continence nurse, it starts there. Your right there at the start of something that is going to test you daily for the rest of your life. The only sure way of ending that is to have a catheter fitted, and that is just the start of a whole other set of problems. I can’t get past the fact that no matter how well they design and make incontinence pads, they are just as likely to fail as any baby nappy is, and they fail all the time. Add in our disgust of the whole subject and hatred of admitting we can’t control it, and no matter how much we want to pretend it isn’t happening, we are caught in something huge. I’m good at adapting, I’ve done a huge amount of it over the years, but I have a feeling that there is part of me, that will never adapt to it because it’s not the same as anything else. I guess it’s that hammered in training, as we are being dragged right back to the beginning of our lives and going through that childhood failing, all over again.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 12/09/2014 – Danger, danger
Those who have been reading for a while will know that I more or less self-prescribe, when I want something I never see my doctor, I just phone talk to him tell him what I think I need and he sends me the prescription. Yesterday we went one step further, I now don’t even need to speak to him! I had phoned in the morning and said to the receptionist that I needed to talk to him and that I required…..