Holidays are not an easy time. Schedules fill, traffic thickens (so does the waistline!), and patience thins. We cry more easily, emotions surface (along with bad memories), and we are thrown together with people we love but others we can't stand. Foods are high in calories and fat, and those of us who drink alcohol, drink and eat too much. Exercise routines are interrupted, and we don't sleep as well or get the sleep we need. The list goes on and on.
Those who have an issue with toileting have still one more battle to cope with. The caffeine in after-dinner coffee, the artificial sweetened colas we order to offset the sin of mousse and cheesecake, and the pre-dinner vodka/tonic contribute to the misery of urinary frequency and urgency. Just when you've finally landed an introduction to that handsome single dream on the other side of the room to ask for a date or the managing director of the firm you're dying to land a job with, an urgency strikes to empty your bladder that is the equivalent of a five-station fire alarm. You tear yourself away, only to find a locked door to the single toilet, private restroom in an establishment or a friend's home.
And then you feel a warm relief running down your leg. Down your stockings. Down your pants leg. Into your shoes. Maybe even onto the floor. The evening turns only nightmarish from there.
The Holidays. Can't we ask Santa to just "hold on"?
Regardless of your faith or religious leaning, the period often commences with Ramadan (if the ninth month of the Islamic calendar opens in the fall) and Rosh Hashanah in late September or early October. It encompasses Thanksgiving for all Americans - with various celebrations dancing their way through the month of December to encompass Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, and Kwanzaa, eventually ending with New Year's Eve. We wrestle as well during December with the likes of National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day and Oatmeal Muffin Day and including special days during the month for pies, brownies, cookies, and even cotton candy! And throughout it all, you face overactive bladder, with its relentless urgency and frequency, with or without incontinence. That's why Bladder Health Week is smack in the middle of November. It can ruin the holidays!
Don't dread the season. Just tackle the extra episodes it brings. Keep a log for a couple of days, recording what's happening when the urgency strikes, how often you go, if there's an accident, and how much and when you've been eating food and drinking fluids. Make an appointment with your internist, family doctor, or nurse practitioner. Take the log with you. Be honest in your visit. Describe what's happening and how often. Most importantly, tell them how you feel about the problem. Adopt a plan of action and give the matter at least six weeks to begin seeing some change in symptoms. Take any medication you're prescribed faithfully. Make the dietary restrictions you need to. If there's some retraining of the bladder to be done, do it. Follow a written guideline. Learn how to do those pelvic floor contractions correctly, and DO a couple when the urgency strikes. Then keep another log for a few days and see if you can map any differences after 6-8 weeks. Your provider will probably want to see you again in three months or so. Take the information as a report card.
You can manage overactive bladder. I can't make promises about the relatives.....or the chocolate.
Nancy Muller, PhD
Published On: November 22, 2010