Welcome to #MSMoments, a new series on HealthCentral that looks at moments where you experience multiple sclerosis (MS) in a unique and perhaps embarrassing way. An MS moment might occur when you are all alone, or it might happen when you are with others. You may be the only one to notice your MS moment, or it could put you on display amongst a crowd of friends, acquaintances, or strangers.
The #MSMoment I’d like to share happened several years ago, but I still remember it like it happened yesterday. I felt fortunate that nobody was around to witness it, but that didn’t make me feel any less embarrassed.
Every six months, I go to the dentist for a routine cleaning and checkup. That’s something we each should do on a regular basis, because it’s important for our overall health. On a beautiful spring day a few years ago, I left my appointment around noon. With no music lessons scheduled until 4 p.m., I had plenty of time to get some lunch, go to the post office, and stop at the grocery store on the way home.
After leaving the dentist’s office, I went to my car, opened the door, and sat in the driver’s seat. As I turned the ignition, thoughts of the bathroom flittered across my mind. I hadn’t noticed any urge to go to the bathroom until that very moment.
“Maybe I should have stopped at the restroom on the way out of the building?” I thought to myself. But then I would have had to ask for the bathroom key, go to the restroom, and take the key back to the dentist’s office, when all I wanted to do was get on with my day.
“I could go back in. Or maybe I’ll just wait until I get to the restaurant for lunch. That would work.”
Then, thoughts of the bathroom rumbled deep in my abdomen. It was time to go back inside. I debated whether I should go ahead and move my car closer to the front door and park in the handicapped space to expedite the process of getting back inside.
“No, I’ll just walk over there. It’s not too far,” I thought.
I got out of the car and made it about two steps before I started to wet my jeans. Urine began rushing toward my shoes. I managed to slip out of my shoes quickly enough, so that they only got a little wet. My jeans, however, were soaked through and heavy.
Frozen in place, all I could do was allow wave upon wave of fluid to fill the street and roll down the hill. I couldn’t stop the flow. In fact, I felt like there wasn’t much I could do but stand there and wait it out.
After the tsunami unleashed below my waist had receded, I stepped back to my car. The dam holding back my tears broke as I unlocked the door. I wished there were a towel or blanket to put between me and my fabric seats. I briefly contemplated taking my jeans off and driving home in my underwear.
I felt powerless. But then I noticed some newspaper in the backseat. A few sheets of newsprint to protect the driver’s seat was the best I could do during my MS moment.
Needless to say, I didn’t stop for lunch and I didn’t go grocery shopping. Instead, I headed straight home to disrobe and shower. I don’t remember telling anybody about this incident; in fact, this might be the first time I’ve shared this particular urinary story — definitely an MS moment that I will never forget.
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Lisa Emrich is a patient advocate, accomplished speaker, author of the award-winning blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA, and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers. Lisa uses her experience to educate patients, raise disease awareness, encourage self-advocacy, and support patient-centered research. Lisa frequently works with non-profit organizations and has brought the patient voice to health care conferences and meetings worldwide. Follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.