The Torches We Carry -- Incontinence Awareness and Education

Jasmine Schmidt Health Guide
  • We each have our torches to carry, and this is mine. I am a Continence Promoter. My more formal job title is “Director of Education” at the Simon Foundation for Continence. The first year or so in this job, I found it very difficult to answer the question, “So what do you do” at cocktail parties and other such gatherings. I tried out a lot of different responses to this question in my attempts to avoid the inevitable awkward silence that followed my answer. Of course, it wasn’t always an awkward silence….One particular young man, Steve, in his attempts to woo me replied, “A Continents Promoter, huh? Well that’s just great… I love continents and the world and stuff. That’s great.” I never did return Steve’s calls.
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    Incontinence is a topic that few people want to talk about, and fewer still want to hear about. I actually find that rather baffling when you consider just how many people suffer from incontinence. Estimates vary greatly (probably because it’s so difficult to get hard numbers on a condition many people will not admit to having), but the estimates seem to be in the range of 15 to 33 million people in the United States and around 200 million worldwide who suffer from incontinence. Nearly half of all women will experience some kind of leakage in their lifetime. So chances are that EVERYONE at the very least knows someone with incontinence. And what’s more is that incontinence affects ALL people: men, women, children, all ages and races. So why is it that we hear about some health conditions and diseases all the time, such as breast cancer, diabetes and heart disease, but others we hardly ever hear about? It may be the case that some other health challenges can be fatal. While incontinence isn’t life-threatening, it can certainly threaten your quality of life. This is why I continue to carry my Continence Promoter torch.

    Incontinence is the result of something not working quite right in the body. There are tons of treatment options available to either correct the situation or help you live with it, including medicines, surgeries and absorbent products. I can’t sit by idly and watch as women miss out on their granddaughters’ weddings because they no longer leave the house, as fathers are placed into nursing homes because family is overwhelmed by dealing with incontinence, and as young women no longer experience physical intimacy due to incontinence after the birth of their baby.

    Incontinence can and does steal the active lives of millions of people. However, if we can help the general public to discuss incontinence openly and honestly, as we do with any other health condition, we’ll be on the road towards giving all these people their lives back. Until that day comes, hopefully you will join me in taking a small step to become a Continence Promoter. Perhaps you’ll admit to your doctor for the first time that you leak urine or feces. Or maybe you’ll talk to your loved ones about incontinence and urge them to get the medical assistance they need. You can bring the topic out of the closet by discussing it with others and using online message boards to share ideas and support with other people who have incontinence. If we each start today to raise our torch, eventually the world will see our light.
Published On: May 02, 2006