The Beginning of My Incontinence Journey

Jennifer G Health Guide
  • I like to be honest about things, especially about any of my multiple sclerosis symptoms. I used to stress out and hide problems from people because my MS symptoms are kind of weird: tingling, numbness, weakness, trouble remembering things, and occasional trouble swallowing (to name just a few). I hid a couple of my BIGGEST symptoms for a long time because they're pretty much embarrassing: bladder and bowel urgencies and sporadic incontinence. Only several of my family members and close friends initially knew about my issues.


    Before I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I had many typical symptoms that led doctors to conclude that I had "probable MS." A wait-and-see approach was taken because I didn't have severe symptoms early on. This was particularly true about my bladder and bowel issues: I knew I needed to urinate frequently and my bowel issues were yet to manifest themselves, so nothing proved to be definite and I just plugged along and hoped for the best.

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    Things progressed soon after I married in 2003 and moved into an apartment with my husband. He had recently switched careers and I was finding myself getting drained more easily from the probable MS. I was also finding myself having more problems holding my bladder and I'd "leak" a little before getting to a bathroom to go. More disturbing were my developing bowel urgencies that seemed to be triggered by exercise and stress. I still found myself denying the problem at that point because I wasn't working full-time anymore and I could simply readjust my schedule and cope. And I was yet to be correctly diagnosed with MS.


    From 2004 -2005, I found myself having the opposite difficulties as well: trouble with urinary and bowel hesitancy. I found myself needing to go to the bathroom but either being constipated or unable to urinate.  I reported this to my neurologist at the time, but because my tests were still not that bad, I was not positively diagnosed with MS. At one point I couldn't pass a bowel movement for about a week--- I was that constipated--- and I developed a very painful internal hemorrhoid. I can chuckle about it now but I have to say that it was the most painful experience I've ever had.


    I would finally get correctly diagnosed with MS in 2005 after a severe visual problem. The attack of that year also brought more decline with my bladder and bowel situations. My neurologist explained that where I had MS nerve damage was in an area that controlled my bladder and bowel sphincters. So the messages along the nerves could "misfire" and either not send the correct messages or send no messages at all. Hence the difficulties with holding my bladder and bowel as well as the problems with not being able to go.


    My MS journey led me to learn more about my bladder and bowel problems. What happened after my multiple sclerosis diagnosis proved to be even more challenging, but that is a story for another day.

Published On: May 11, 2010