When you are out in public, it is very hard to cross your legs really hard, bend over and hope you do not wet yourself when you are ready to sneeze or cough. I did that forever when I worked big box retail. With people around all the time, I sure that looked like quite a sight to some.
I had an issue called Stress Urinary Incontinence (UI). Anything that put stress on bladder could cause leakage. The above two reasons are my most memorable, and occurred most often.
Finding a doctor was another whole story for UI. As women, it is hard enough to visit the gynecologist so we do have the hope of making it through life without the need for a urologist or a proctologist. I was wondering how many mothers and friends share their ‘total’ stories of each step along the way so I decided to share my experience, sometimes embarrassing and sometimes humorous, with you.
I was very lucky in my choice of doctor. While he was male, he had the perfect bedside manner for the job he has chosen. Not once, in all we went through together, did I ever feel embarrassed by what was happening. And I can tell you now, if it could go wrong, it did.
UI is actually quite a common condition that women who have several babies, or lift a lot suffer from. Yes, I said suffer because, as stated in the opening paragraph, it can become rather bothersome, especially in public. There are several steps and tests involved for your urologist to determine exactly what kind of UI you have because there are a few different variations. However, all of them include urinary leakage in one form or another. Depending on how far your UI is, or how long you have put it off will determine the care that you need. For a person, unlike myself, that sees a doctor right away, you may be able to get a simple little pill that will take care of the leakage. Being stubborn, like I am, and not going ~ out of embarrassment ~ or whatever, makes treatment more involved.
I had physical exams which include stirrups (oh, how we love those). Your urologist is examining you bladder however and not everything else that a gynecologist has to look at. The best advice I can give you is to find a doctor you are comfortable with because there are a lot of exams.
Blood tests can also be involved, as are urine tests EVERY time you go to a urologist so be sure to arrive with a full bladder. Urinary testing is called urodynamic testing, regardless of the form it takes. One of my visits included a post-void residual test. The nurse inserted a small tube to empty my bladder, after I urinated, to see how much urine was left in my bladder. This test also lets the doctor know if they must continue testing. Unfortunately, I qualified for more testing.
My next visit included a test where I was told to undress. I do not know how you feel about bare feet in cold stirrups and I never remove my socks when it comes to them. Not knowing what this test involved, I did what I normally do and my socks remained on. My bladder was filled (yes, more tubes inserted) with a saline solution and I had to tell the doctor when it felt like my bladder was full. Now, this got a little tricky because I have a public bathroom phobia from days gone by. I am used to ‘holding it in’ because I will not use a public bathroom. This is all my grandmother’s fault for the horror she put us through as young children and teenagers. You would not use a public restroom if your grandmother waited until you were shouting distance away, screamed your name, and when you turned around, she was waving and hollering that you ‘Forgot your toilet seat cover”. Sheesh, she sure cured us of having to use the restroom in public. Ahh… I digress. Anyway, after he asked me three times was I sure that my bladder did not feel full, I decided to say, “Sure, it’s full now.” (I do not suggest lying to your doctor, as I did). Having never had this test done, you can imaging my surprise when he then told me to stand up. My mouth dropped to floor when he told me to cough. Of course, my reply was- and sorry if the language gets you- “But I’m going to piss on the floor!”. All the time thinking that I still had my socks on! He, of course, replied that he needed to see it. So I coughed a little and dribbled thinking that would be the end of it. But, oh no, I was told to really cough. So I did and I urinated all over the floor, and my socks. Tip: TAKE YOUR SOCKS OFF for this test!
That was all he needed. Yeah, nice. So, he leaves the room, I’m standing in a puddle of saline solution that I have ‘involuntary’ voided onto the floor, in wet socks. I apologize to the wonderful nurse who, of course, knew what was going on and then got dressed with no socks. Gee, fun, huh?
Afterwards, we discussed my options and knew that I needed to have surgery to ‘lift’ my bladder back up. Details discussed and blah, blah, blah. Surgery is scheduled and performed. I had a bladder sling ‘installed’. Trouble three days after surgery. I was a smidgen away from returning to the hospital because the pain was so horrific. That statement comes from me, who has already delivered four children by natural childbirth. Actually, the pain felt a lot like labor. That morning, I called the doctor, went in for yet another exam to find that the stitches used to sew in the sling were rejected by my body. Oh, joy. We decided to wait and see if I would heal, anyway. I did not. Why should my body, which has failed to hold in my urine, surprise me now and decide to work?
About three weeks later I am prepped for surgery again. Repeat. This time, I made it through 5 weeks, everything looked fine and was going well. Normally you would go in at the end of the six weeks recuperation period, but due to the problems with the first surgery, I was having weekly visits. At the end of 5 weeks and starting my 6th week, what happens but my bladder decides to fall and the sling does not work. Ugh! Another exam, more discussion, another surgery scheduled. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that the ‘sling’ was just not going to work for me.
Having the sling removed was by far the most painful of the surgeries performed. While he was in there, he performed the ‘old fashioned’ surgery of tacking up my bladder. This surgery did take me a full 6-weeks t recover from. It was a success and to this day, I have no leakage. Thank heaven and my wonderful doctor.
I am now glad that the sling was removed as I am sure you have heard, read or know someone that is having trouble with one. There are a lot of attorney’s looking for patients that are having trouble. If you Google ‘bladder sling’ you will find more information than you could ever use. I wish you well on your journey.