I live with incontinence. It's the first time I've penned that to paper or said it out loud. In the past, I have found myself dancing around the subject, "I have bladder issues”, I would say. It's not something I had ever really talked about or shared with others; it's just been something I managed behind the scenes. There is so much shame and insecurity around bladder and bowel function, but there needn't be. It's something many people will struggle with at some point in their life, to varying degrees. I've spoken to many of my friends, those with a disability, those who are mums, younger and older, men and women - and many of them admit to having incontinence at some point in time. From leaks and dribbles to missing the bathroom, or complete loss of bladder function, maybe a once-off, or all the time. But they also haven't talked about it; this is slowly changing, with companies Independently You now making access to disability incontinence products easier and normalising this korerō. I hope that more people will feel it's OK to speak up and talk about incontinence. It's normal; it really is.
I use catheters to help manage my bladder. I have an ostomy to help manage my bowel function (as well as a feeding tube and central line to help stay on top of hydration!) But today, I wanted to take time to share with you some of the things that enable me to manage incontinence at home:
- Make things chic, hip, fab, and fun! Have your fav fragrance at hand or set up a nice basket in the toilet, do little things to make you feel fabulous!
- Have extras of your favourite comfortable clothing and underwear. So that if you do have to change, it's not a big deal – it's just another reason to pull out another favourite item to wear!
- Take your time! Make it "me time." Taking time to slow down now can help later on. I like to put videos on when I'm in the bathroom. It helps me feel like I'm not spending so much time "in the bathroom" and allows me to slow down and feel less pressured to be quick.
- Have everything easily accessible to you! We have a hanging basket next to the toilet that has everything easily reachable and handy like; nappy bags, underwear, pads, liners, disinfectant spray, wipes, etc... It doesn't look 'medical,' it works for my support workers, but most importantly, it works for me!
- Wipes! Having a variety of wipes can help! Personally, I like to use wipes with moisturiser in them so that my area doesn't dry out too much. I also like to use disinfectant wipes before I catheterise, and for when I have had an accident – they're a quick clean-up! Dry wipes are also fantastic for drying your area after a clean-up, and a good PH gel can also help a lot!
- Don't forget those pelvic floor exercises, if you can do them. It just might help, even a little.
- Independently You sheets and pads! They are great for lying on the bed, on the chair, and make it so quick to clean up an accident. Throw it in the wash and lay another down. Don't be scared to use disposable ones if you need to – if that's what you need to do – do it!
- Don't undermine using adult diapers. Texi have recently come out with a new line of them, and there is NO shame in using incontinence products! Hold that head high, friend!
I’ve learned so many more tips and tricks over the years, but this is a good start, and I hope it opens up the dialogue.
Do you have your own tips? Share them with us!