A New Look for How I Control My MS Bladder
Last updated: January 2023
I will admit that I am vain. I care about my appearance and like to look nice, but I never thought I would need Botox less than a month after turning 47.
My “procedure” happened the day before Thanksgiving 2021.
Only I relied on the botulism toxin not for wrinkle reduction, but for neurogenic bladder reduction. I gave hopeful thanks this year for increased bladder control.
MS and bladder control issues
Multiple sclerosis has ravaged my urinary system in the 24 years since my diagnosis. I have turned to several different oral medications – like Detrol, Ditropan, and Myrbetriq – over the years; however, those drugs no longer were successful at controlling my bladder issues such as urgency, frequency, or retention.
Those aforementioned issues have caused me frustration, concern, and a fair amount of embarrassment. I am 47 and don’t want to worry about incontinence, needing a spare change of clothes, frequent urinary tract infections, and the potential for any sort of unpleasant urine odor. I kept wondering what was I going to do? Seriously MS, this is too much!
Discussing options with my urologist
Fortunately, I have a patient and understanding urologist who talked with my husband, Dan, and me. After discussing my concerns and frustrations, she mentioned Botox.
Can you really use Botox on your bladder?
My urologist told me she could inject Botox directly into my bladder in hopes to treat my urge incontinence and overactive bladder. Injecting Botox should help my muscles relax and give me more time for Dan or my caregiver, Jen, to get me to the bathroom.
When it was first discussed, I was skeptical. “Thanks, but no. I don’t think I’m there yet.” Not there mentally. I was scared about the procedure because I never have had any sort of surgery with anesthesia in my life. Plus, I didn’t think my issues necessitated such a serious response.
All signs point to Botox
But who was I kidding? I was going to the bathroom almost every hour, having frequent bladder accidents, and constantly feeling anxious and uncomfortable. I needed to act and move forward quickly.
And that is exactly what I did. I had Botox injected into my bladder.
My procedure experience
Dan and I arrived at our local surgery center at 7 a.m. Just a few minutes later, my supportive and strong husband transferred me onto my pre-op procedure table and a nurse started my IV. Shortly after the fluids started circulating through my system, I was whisked away into an operating room.
“C’mon N’Ride It,” a song by the Quad City DJ’s, filled the room as I was rolled in. This tune instantly took me back to the late 90s and my college years and helped to put me at ease. In fact, the music made me smile and grin. The song’s lyrics were perfect. So appropriate, “I think I can, I think I can…Come on, it’s the choo, choo train.” That fun song was the last thing I heard.
And just like that, I was back in my pre-op room.
I remember being incredibly thirsty immediately after the procedure. This was good because I needed to show the nurse that I was able to void on my own before she could release me. Three large Styrofoam cups of ice water did the trick. I had “to go,” and before I knew it, I went and then left the surgery center. It was 9:26 a.m. as we drove away. Wow, what an experience!
I felt a little pain for the first few hours after I got home and had to change my pants four times before 1 p.m. that day. I just didn’t realize how much fluid was in my system! But then I remembered that incredible thirst and three large Styrofoam cups of ice water, this kept me from getting too discouraged. Besides, no one promised instantaneous results from Botox. However, I was able to sleep for six uninterrupted hours the night of my procedure before I needed to use the restroom. Those were glorious hours and good results.
3 weeks later
As I write this today, it has been almost three weeks since I tried Botox for my neurogenic bladder. My urgency and frequency are more manageable. During the day, I am feeling so much more confident and can trust my bladder again. I mean, I still struggle at night but that’s mostly because of my MS and the fact that I cannot use the bathroom without help.
I probably will need to repeat this injection process in six to eight months. But until then, I will enjoy the results and take advantage of my bladder control. Fingers crossed the good results continue, and I look forward to retro fun music playing as they whisk me away into an operating room to get more Botox for my neurogenic bladder.
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