My husband is my main support system when it comes to my multiple sclerosis and accompanying incontinence. So I've taken some time to interview Bill to bring his thoughts and opinions to this forum:
Q: In what ways do you think we've both been most impacted by my incontinence?
A: One of the main ways that we've been impacted has been with the increased difficulty we have trying to plan trips, especially day trips that involve going some distances. We find that we have to plan our route carefully in order to make certain that there are available restrooms. This means we need to stick to using main roads and avoid more remote, out-of-the-way routes. Also, it's necessary to be certain that you don't have any large meals or a lot of liquids just before we go. You also need to make sure that you use the bathroom right before we leave, no matter what.
Q: Do you worry about my incontinence getting worse over time?
A: Naturally, I worry about any of your medical conditions becoming worse and impacting both of our lives to an even greater degree. I worry about your incontinence limiting some of our options for trips and vacations, and also activities to the point where we may be forced to limit ourselves or make choices based soley on your condition. This may mean that we would have to cancel planned activities and possibly disappoint others who are counting on our presence or our involvement in these activities.
Q: In what ways do you think you and I compensate for this problem?
A: I think we do a good job of acknowledging your condition and planning our activities with your condition in mind. For example, if we're planning on going to a park, we'll take note of where the bathrooms are. When deciding on where to spend the day, we'll often choose a place that has known restrooms instead of one that doesn't. You try not to eat large meals or drink a lot of liquids before trips or any rigorous physical activities. Although lately you've been drinking more water to keep hydrated, but you've become more conscious of how full you feel before we leave the house. So you seem to have gotten better at understanding your own body and doing your best to limit the impact that your incontinence has on our lives.
Q: What would you tell other caretakers to help them cope with incontinence?
A: I think that being patient and understanding can go a long way towards minimizing the impact that incontinence can have. Dealing with it can be embarrassing so if a caretaker can be sympathetic it can alleviate a lot of the stress that could accompany the situation. A good caretaker will also be someone who is flexible as issues arise (and they will.) Having patience, understanding, and flexibility can ease the stress and embarrassment that might develop. Do realize that plans may change, strict timelines may have to be broken, and that a patient's network of supportive family and friends can be accessed for additional help.
Published On: September 28, 2010