If you go down the Depends isle at any grocery store or pharmacy you know you’re not alone, but people don’t like to talk about this. It’s embarrassing, I get it. I’ve always had a small bladder, but over the past couple of years it’s developed into a real problem. I have to go, a lot, and sometimes I can’t hold it and have an accident. Running became impossible without wearing a pad. I got into the habit of going to the bathroom frequently, “just in case”.
Last year I tried acupuncture and it actually helped, for awhile. But when we went to a Florida I stopped, and gradually the problem returned, worse than ever.
Then Covid happened and I wasn’t going anywhere for awhile. Eventually I went to the dentist, and then I had my yearly physical. I told my doc about my problems and we talked about possible solutions. I didn’t want to do the medication route if I could help it, so I decided to try pelvic floor physical therapy.
Sounds weird, doesn’t it? I was a little apprehensive, but decided I was a big girl and could handle it. As it turned out it was mostly talking and very little “hands on”. She checked my muscle strength down there and that was about it.
I don't have a prolapsed uterus, and I don't have "leakage", where a little urine comes out when you laugh or cough. I have bladder "urgency." I guess I knew that!
We came up with a plan. First of all I actually need to drink more! Sounds counterintuitive but people with bladder problems tend to not drink enough and their urine gets concentrated and that actually irritates the bladder and makes them need to pee more. That’s me for sure.
Secondly, I need to train my bladder, and my brain. I guessed that I generally pee about every hour and a half so my goal for this week is to wait 1 hour and 35 minutes before I pee. Then next week 1 hour and 40 and the week after that 1 hour and 45, eventually getting to 2 hours. Normal people pee every 2-4 hours, about 7 to 8 times a day. I’ve started trying this afternoon and it’s harder than it sounds. I think a lot of the time I’m peeing every hour, at least. She also gave me some techniques to be able to hold it longer, things like distracting myself or deep breathing.
I was able to do it this afternoon, but it’s actually sort of tiring. But if it works it will be worth it. I’m also supposed to do kegel exercises, although they aren’t the reason I’m having trouble, those muscles are actually in pretty good shape. It’s the muscles inside the bladder, which are involuntary, that are having issues. Which is why brute force doesn’t work.
Hopefully in a month or so I’ll have fewer instances of bladder panic. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll be able to run without wearing a pad! Stay tuned.
I wrote this back in late September. I had my 3 week checkup with the pelvic floor PT person on October 14th. She says I’m doing well. She said I just need to keep doing the kegel exercises with more frequency and try to drink more water. Other than that I just need to be patient. It takes awhile to retrain your bladder!
As of today, October 19th, I'm up to holding it for an hour and 55 minutes. I'm almost to 2 hours! Some days its difficult and some days it is surprisingly easy. Its really surprising how much staying calm when I need to go helps. Walking to the bathroom slowly and deliberately when You REALLY NEED TO PEE isn't easy, but it works. The more I have to go, the more calm, slow and thoughtful I get. Its sure beats running in a panic cause that doesn't work at all.
The training I do during the day is supposed to eventually help me not have to go as much at night either. Its normal for older people to get up to pee once or twice a night, but I usually have to get up three times, and sometimes four. Every once in awhile during this training I'll have a night where I only have to get up twice, but then the next night I'm back to three. Oh well!
Sorry, I've got to end this now. Its time for me to walk slowly and calmly to the bathroom, and PEE!