Taking MS On the Road: Urinary Incontinence and Embarrassing Moments

Lisa Emrich Health Guide May 18, 2010
  • As I was telling you about my recent adventures in Switzerland, I left out one event mainly because it deserves a post all its own.  I didn’t tell you about my experience with urinary incontinence

    We don’t talk much about incontinence on MS Central, but perhaps we should.  The National MS Society shares that at least 80% of MS patients experience bladder dysfunction.  That’s a HUGE majority!

    My bladder problems are not so large just yet.  I know that if the thought of needing to go to the bathroom crosses my mind, I really ought to be making a calm move to the nearest restroom.  However, there have been many times where I didn’t quite make it in time to avoid getting fluids where they’re not intended to be.


    While exploring on the Saturday during my trip, we made our way to the Kunstmuseum (art museum).  My first stop was the restroom because my bladder was on my mind.  I was wearing a simple pair of jeans; not much to deal with besides a button and zipper.  However, this was one of those occasions where I couldn’t get everything undone in time to avoid soaking my underwear.  Very embarrassing, I know, but an important topic to discuss none the less.

    Why wasn’t I wearing at least a sanitary pad, just in case?  I know that several of us females will do so before moving onto Poise® pads or Depend® underwear.  I simply forgot to add this extra layer of protection before venturing out.  I was too preoccupied by the excitement the day might offer.

    So back to the art museum.  I soaked my underwear and much of the toilet seat as I was franticly trying to get properly situated.  Darn!!  So what do I do now?  I took my underwear and put it in my bag.  Going commando is not exactly my idea of a good time or a frequent habit, but it seemed to be the best solution in this situation.  I was very glad to be wearing a long shirt because my pants have been hanging low on my hips since I’ve lost some weight.  I didn’t want to inadvertently flash anybody.

    I was actually very fortunate in this situation because it could have been worse.  A couple of years ago, I had a much more embarrassing situation occur.  I had been at the dentist’s office for a routine cleaning and exam.  My appointment lasted longer than usual because we had decided to fit me for a mouth guard to wear at night to prevent grinding my teeth.

    I felt just fine as I left the office and even planned to stop at the grocery store on the way home.  As I got to my car, I thought, “Oops, I better go back inside and visit the ladies room.”  Then the thought turned to, “I better drive my car to the door and very quickly get inside.”  Following by, “Damn, get out of the car right now and just stand in the street!”

    I managed to get up quickly enough to avoid peeing all over the drivers seat.  But I did soak my jeans and unfortunately got one shoe somewhat wet.  It was a situation where all control was lost.  Once the flood gates are opened, there is nothing I can do to close them.  (I think you probably know what I mean.)  That is my form of bladder dysfunction at this time.


  • Fortunately I had a newspaper in my car and used that to cover my seat before driving.  The paper was almost soaked through by the time I got home.  Needless to say, I didn’t stop by the grocery store.  Instead I got in the shower when I returned home and cried a bit out of humiliation and frustration.  MS really is the pits sometimes.


    When we’ve talked about bladder dysfunction here on MS Central, it was generally an overview.  I don’t even think that I mentioned my own experience with bladder issues.  My problems haven’t been quite so serious that I’ve asked to see a urologist, but we have discussed that possibility during my neuro exams.  When I eventually do see a urologist for testing, I promise to let you know what that entails (no matter how embarrassing).

    Do you have bladder issues?  What do you do about them?  Do you have a urinary/bladder story to tell?  By sharing your experience, you may help someone else to feel less alone (including me).

     

    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.