When 'I Need A Wee' Becomes More Than Desperate

07/02/2017 17:17
Jasper Cole via Getty Images

Have you ever been absolutely desperate for the loo, and thought I'm not going to make it... and then of course you do, and the relief is just enormous.

Well, just imagine having that feeling every time you need the toilet. This a perhaps TMI (too much information) for some, but it's a topic I'm passionate about because no one talks about it. It's taboo, and the more I talk about it, the more I find that so many other women (and men) are affected, and it's just hidden from society.

After I gave birth to my son, my need for a wee became more than a tinkle.

It actually started when I was six months pregnant, and my lovely long baby was pushing down on my bladder, and giving me stress and urge incontinence - medical speak for wetting myself.

Cough, and I would wee. Sneeze and I would wee. Now imagine having bronchitis and a weak bladder. I asked my best friend for advice, and she told me her mum used TENA pads - I'd never even heard of such things. I stocked up on pads, and the situation seemed just about manageable.

Aside from this, I had a great pregnancy, and did yoga every day, and even managed to move house two weeks before our baby was born!

The morning after I gave birth, I got out of bed, and a cascade of wee followed. I had lost all my bladder control. It was so humiliating, and really embarrassing to try and get the nursing staff to come and clean up.

Everyday I wore thick pads (much bigger than sanitary pads), and when I had a cold or cough, I had to wear nappies (just like baby pull ups but for grown ups).

Over the months we tried many different ways to try and improve my bladder situation. I went to yoga and pilates about four times a week. I would do my pelvic floor exercises religiously, and nothing seemed to work.

Walking down a steep hill with a full bladder was a very embarrassing story and usually resulted in soaking trousers and a very traumatised me. Going for a run was definitely out of the question.

Contemplating going back to work seemed impossible... I used to be an international journalist, and the thought of being on assignment chasing politicians or being in a war zone when I needed a wee scared the sh*t out of me.

Luckily I had a brilliant GP who was very sympathetic and took my situation seriously. I was sent to UCLH hospital for various treatments to sort out my wee and poo. I tried tibial nerve stimulation - where they stick a needle attached to an electric current in my ankle and it stimulates the tibial nerve to try and recover the nerve damage from giving birth. I would go to the hospital twice a week, and sit in a room (with a wriggly baby) and try and sit very still as I had an electric current run up my leg. Baby juggling and electric currents was no mean feat!

I would sit in a room with many other women and men that were all having the same treatment. I would hear stories of women who didn't want to leave the house, of businesses that failed, and relationships that ended because of their embarrassing wee and poo situations.

We talk about "checking your balls" and prostrate cancer, or breast cancer and boob check ups, but no one mentions this taboo. And I found when I was open and talked about it to other mothers, they too had wee and poo problems, and some were suffering in silence.

My son is now 20 months old, and things have improved. I fought very hard to get treatment, and get an operation to sort out my bladder and anal issues. I had a TVT procedure (Tension-free vaginal tape) to help the muscles work more effectively with the leakage of urine.

Six weeks on from the operation I'm a changed woman. I'm about to go running again - for the first time since having a baby, and I can now lead a normal life.

I know this operation doesn't work for everyone, and there can be complications for some, but if you are struggling then it is worth considering.

It's embarrassing putting this story out there. I'm sure it's embarrassing for my family and my poor husband who has had to deal with my toilet traumas (thank you, and I love you), but I want to put this out there because I know so many other women (and men) suffer in silence.

Go to the doctor, and if you don't get a satisfactory response, then go and see someone else that cares. Just do something, take action and it will get better. I promise, you don't have to spend the rest of your life running for the loo.

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