Laughing To Keep From Crying: Urinary Incontinence
Last updated: April 2023
What are two things that keep you running?
A toddler… and an overactive bladder!
The sudden need to urinate
You keep getting the sudden, immediate need to urinate. No matter your mobility status, where you are, when it hits, you have 2.2 seconds to get to a restroom. (Frequency)
Me: Knock knock
Bladder: Who's there?
Bladder: 'Yearn' who?
Me: I know 'urine' is in there.. Let it come on out!
Getting to the bathroom
Bathroom time comes. When you get to the toilet/commode ready to release, the flow won't start or takes forever to do so. (Hesitancy)
What did the urethra say to the bladder?
Take it all with you and leave nothing behind!
You find yourself 'lucky' enough for the flow to begin, but don't fully eliminate and have 'remains' that you desperately try to coax out, but 'it' stubbornly resists. (Retention)
What's worse than a leaky faucet?
A leaky bladder!
You try your hardest to get to the bathroom in time, but are unable to stop the 'dribble.'
The impact of MS on bladder control
'You' could be me.. and others like me. I/we have MS. One of the symptoms of said disease is loss of bladder control. These scenarios of bladder issues – frequency, hesitancy, retention and leakage – are examples of what I experience. MS causes nerve damage, which can impact the successful transfer of signals in parts of the central nervous system that control the bladder.1
Left untreated, bladder issues can cause some difficult issues, including urinary tract infections (UTI) or kidney stones that can be very painful. Signs of urinary tract infections can vary, from back or side pain to burning with urination, among other potential symptoms. Untreated bladder issues can also make existing MS symptoms, such as weakness, worse.1,2
Bladder issues are on my mind
Another aspect to the consequences of urinary incontinence is that it can negatively impact you socially. The embarrassment and frustration of bladder issues can be the culprit of you wanting to refrain from interacting socially. You may limit outings, attending events you'd normally enjoy, interactions with people and such. Sadly, this can affect your quality of life, because you may feel unfulfilled or disconnected.
Personally, when the opportunity arises and I'm going out – which I still love to do – my bladder issues weigh heavily on me and are a concern definitely at the forefront of my mind. My outings are few and far between and not too long, but it's always a plus to have what I'll call a "good urinary session" before leaving. By doing so, I'll likely have the convenience of not having to go while out, and be free from the frustration and embarrassment of not having any "accidents."
This is me being transparent. The jokes? Just a little corny humor to adhere to the old adage "laugh to keep from crying" because this condition can be manageable, but is really no laughing matter.
What does advocacy mean to you as someone living with multiple sclerosis? Please select all that apply: