What's With My MS and Recurring UTIs?
“This is the end, my beautiful friend, the end.”
Every single time I have used the bathroom over these past seven days, I hear the Doors' Jim Morrison melodically sing these words. Perhaps I am being dramatic, but emptying my bladder has become a painful chore.
I urgently rush to the bathroom in hopes of fully voiding. Alas, there is nothing more than a few drops of urine. I pause, push, and take a deep breath. Still, nothing more leaves my body. I return to my wheelchair for a few moments and then the sensation of a full bladder returns.
Living with UTIs and MS
I think I have a urinary tract infection (UTI), and I fear that this is the end...the end of my bladder control as I know it. Sure, this UTI isn’t the first one I’ve had, but it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that I was struggling with these same complaints.
Okay. I get it. Dan and I recently were on a road trip to Chicago – i.e., forced dehydration, so I didn’t have to use the restroom every hundred miles – but I’m home now and making a conscious effort to “get my water.” Plus, I used Botox to treat my neurogenic bladder a few months ago, so what gives?
There is no magic fix
Then I remembered that Botox was to help with controlling my bladder urgency and frequency. UTIs are, in some senses, my penance for not drinking enough water to dilute my urine. Besides, I never imagined Botox would put an end to all of my urinary issues.
In fact, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, bladder dysfunction like I’m experiencing occurs in nearly 80% of the population of those of us living with MS.1
My bladder fears
Bladder problems and the need to use a catheter to empty my bladder have been among my biggest fears since I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a little more than 25 years ago. Back then, I worried a catheter would be uncomfortable, painful to insert, or a sign that my MS was progressing.
I now live each day knowing that my disease has progressed to secondary progressive MS, and my fear now is due to my extremely limited mobility and dexterity. And yes, I’m still a little concerned about possible pain related to the catheter.
I’m not there yet, I hope. But should I cue Jim Morrison here? Is this the end of my usual bladder routine? What is my urologist going to say to me at my upcoming appointment? Do I have a reason to be concerned? Is all hope gone?
Yes, those were my thoughts as I rolled into my urologist’s office last week.
Making a plan with my urologist
I relayed my concerns to her. I actually had written down a list of my questions, which I have found is a good idea and an effective way to make the most of my limited time at any doctor's appointment. She listened to and answered them all. By the end of my visit, we agreed that I needed to continue taking my Hiprex prescription and plan for another Botox injection in February.
Tips for better bladder control
I followed up my appointment by reading some tips to help manage incontinence and to use for better bladder control. Actions to help me with my bladder function include:1
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Drinking plenty of water
- Performing pelvic floor exercises
- Quickly treating constipation
- Limiting caffeine consumption
These tips remind me that they, along with my Hiprex prescription and Botox, are the beginning, not the end.
Would it have been helpful to hear from others and their experiences when you were beginning your MS journey?
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