How much is too much? It’s all too easy to assume that the impact incontinence has on one’s life is directly proportional to the amount of urine being leaked. The mom who can’t keep up with her kids because she leaks “a little” knows this isn’t true. The newlywed who avoids intimacy because he leaks “a little” knows this isn’t true. The retiree who puts their plans to travel the world on hold because she leaks “a little” knows this isn’t true.
Incontinence comes to different people at different stages in their lives, and it affects everyone differently. One person may choose to attempt to eradicate all chance of leakage by any means necessary (for some, depending on the situation, a difficult task), while another individual who leaks much more by comparison, may choose to manage their incontinence with absorbent products rather than subject themselves to medication or surgery. Who is right? How much leakage is too much leakage? There are as many answers to this question as there are individuals with incontinence – an estimated 200 million around the world!
The only normal when it comes to incontinence is that it isn’t “normal” for any person, at any age, to leak urine or feces – it isn’t a “normal” function of the body. After that, the experience is different for everyone, as is the level of tolerability. Some people claim that incontinence is but a mere inconvenience, while for others it is truly devastating. What’s interesting is that these two individuals may actually be experiencing the same amount of urine loss, but it impacts them in different ways. This is due to a few different factors: 1) the individuals may lead different lifestyles in which incontinence is a greater hindrance to one individual than the other; 2) one individual may be experiencing a deeper sense of humiliation or other emotional distress due to the societal pressures and norms that they feel; 3) one person may have greater support from family and friends; or 4) one individual may feel better empowered from a more positive experiencing working with medical professionals.
It would be nice if everyone understood how intensely personal medical decisions are, but that’s unfortunately not always how life is. We’re surrounded by people who (usually with the best of intentions) judge our decisions and make “suggestions” that we, as their friend or family member, are expected to follow. To say the least, it is challenging to explain to an unagreeing party why we feel the way we do about certain medical conditions, and why we chose a particular course of management or treatment. Although it can be difficult to do at first, sometimes the best answer in these situations is simply, “that’s personal”. We’re all brought up to be polite and answer the questions asked of us, and so this slightly gruff response can make us feel uncomfortable and impolite at first. But if we’re talking about manners, how polite is it for others to ask us about delicate matters? It may sound clichéd, but if someone is asking because they truly care for us, then they’ll equally care about our desire for privacy. And if they’re not asking out of genuine concern for us, then do we care if they’re offended?
How much leakage is too much leakage? The answer to that question is yours and yours alone. Own it!
Published On: June 01, 2007