Despite the adverts that endeavour to make the subject of bladder incontinence acceptable, it’s not something you really want to contemplate having. It’s still something that gets giggled about when you’re with your mates in the pub, among friends at school or on comedy programmes ( the Little Britain sketches were NOT empowering in any way ). The adverts refer to “bladder leakage”. But what if you go from having the first feelings of needing to pee, to completely emptying your bladder inside two or three minutes? That’s a lot of pee. And a lot of clothes to change. And laundry to do.
Bladder incontinence is one of the more sensitive areas of MS. My wife not only has the bladder sensitivity that I described above but can also get the feeling of needing to pee, yet nothing happens when she gets to the toilet ( fellas with prostate issues know what I’m talking about, right? ). Let me describe what it takes to get my wife to the toilet. When we’re at home she sits in a reclinable chair so that helps in getting her upright but I have to lift her off the chair ( she can’t bear any weight on her legs ) and on to the wheelchair. I’ll wheel her to the bathroom where I have to lift her again to an upright position, turn her round – while holding her up with one arm, pull her trousers and incontinence pants down and set her on the toilet. All the while battling against powerful leg spasms that she can neither feel nor control ( damned lesions and nerve damage ). No mean feat! All this is done in reverse order to get her off the toilet, back on the wheelchair and back to the reclining chair in the front room. Each visit to the toilet requires me to lift her completely off the ground four times.
My wife weighs 45kgs ( give or take the odd biscuit or two ) and even at this light weight, taking her to the toilet is a fucking ordeal. Especially when you’re out somewhere and the bladder emptying strikes! Yesterday was a bit of an ordeal. Because my wife had a “feels-like-going-to-the-toilet-but-doesn’t-actually-go-much” day. She had to go to the toilet nine times. And at four lifts or “hoists” per visit, that’s 36 lifts to go to the toilet. Added to that 8 lifts first thing in morning to get her out of bed, showered and dressed, and 6 more at night to get her ready for, and into bed; I lifted her at least 50 times yesterday. Probably 10 – 16 more than usual. No wonder I’m knackered. I get cranky as hell about it. We both get frustrated about the whole deal and tears were shed. At least they were by me.
If I were in a humorous mood, I’d title this post “Bladder incontinence – takes the piss” or something equally drôle. But I’m not. I’m just tired and fed up. We both are.